San Marcos High baseball players Riley Moore and Ghazaleh Sailors have different preferences when it comes to naming their favorite major leaguers. Moore admires Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer. “He’s definitely one of the best, if not the best, in the game,” Moore says. “He’s tall and lean; he hits, and he runs.” Moore, a switch-hitting catcher who has a scholarship to Arizona awaiting him if he does not go pro this summer, could have been describing himself. A well-knit 6′3″, 185-pounder, he hit for a 0.493 average as a junior and recently beat his teammates in a race on the basepaths.
Sailors, a 5′3″ pitcher and backup infielder, says she looks to such players as David Eckstein and Dustin Pedroia “because they’re small, and they’ve had hard journeys, too.” Sailors, known as Oz (her first name is pronounced Oz·a·leh), knows something about hard journeys from studying the history of females in baseball. She can tell you about Jackie Mitchell, a minor leaguer who was banned from the game shortly after she struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in a 1931 exhibition.
Sailors intends to make history herself. A unique matchup is on tap Saturday (Mar. 5) at Birmingham High in Van Nuys—Sailors on the mound for San Marcos and Marti Sementelli for Birmingham—possibly the first high school game to feature two starting female pitchers. Both Sailors and Sementelli played on the U.S.A. Women’s National Baseball Team that took a bronze medal in the International Baseball Federation World Cup at Venezuela last summer.
The Royals will be backing up Sailors all the way. “She’s got the heart of a lion,” Moore says. “She’s doing things a lot of people say can’t be done. She comes out to practice every day, and she does it with all her heart and all her intensity.”
Sailors played her first baseball game as a 2-year-old when her older brother’s T-ball team needed a shortstop. “I was still in training pants,” she says. She has been devoted to the game ever since, never gravitating toward softball. She has found a college, the University of Maine at Presque Isle, that will put her on the diamond next year.
Although she cried when she first watched the movie A League of Their Own, Sailors considers the women’s baseball league that flourished during World War II to be a flawed experiment. “They took the players who were better looking because they wore skirts, and that’s what would attract crowds to the games,” she says. “Why would you put a bunch of baseball players in skirts?”
Sailors is proud to wear the same uniform and to be treated the same as any boy on the San Marcos team. The only accommodation that’s made for her is a separate dressing room in the equipment shed.
Royals coach Tony Vanetti puts his focus on the team as a whole, and it has holes to fill with only three returning starters—Moore, Lino Reveles, and Jimmy Brakka—from a lineup that battled Santa Barbara High in a stirring Channel League title race last year. “This year’s team needs to grow a little bit more,” says the veteran Moore. “I don’t think we’re a finished product quite yet.”
Sailors says the Royals look to Moore for leadership. “He’s probably the best high school player I’ve ever seen,” she says. “I would be extremely surprised if he didn’t get drafted in the top five rounds this year. He’s fast, he can hit for power, he can hit for average, he has a good arm, and he’s smart.”
San Marcos will open its season against visiting Oxnard Friday, March 4, at 3:30 p.m. In a pregame ceremony, Joe Mueller Field will be dedicated in honor of longtime Royals baseball coach Joe Mueller, who coached from 1965-86 and is still spry in retirement. The Saturday game at Birmingham starts at 11 a.m.
HOOPS: UCSB’s junior guard Emilie Johnson was honored as Big West Player of the Week after surpassing 1,000 points in her career. The Gaucho women can claim a co-championship if they win at Cal Poly on Saturday. They will play an opening-round game of the conference tournament at the Thunderdome on Tuesday (Mar. 8). The Gaucho men’s Saturday-night game against visiting Cal Poly will be televised on KCOY-12. Their Big West Tournament opener will be Thursday (Mar. 10) at Anaheim’s Honda Center. The Bishop Diego Cardinals will play Valley Torah for the CIF Division 6AA boys basketball title Saturday night at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana.
FOUR-PEAT: Dos Pueblos High’s girls water polo team won its fourth consecutive CIF championship and stretched its winning streak to 67 games last Saturday night with a 16-10 victory over Foothill High of Santa Ana. The Chargers will be honored Monday (Mar. 7) at the Athletic Round Table luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Café.