Empire notes: SRJC softball off to hot start

Well, there has been no lack of firepower early on for the Santa Rosa Junior College softball team.

The Bear Cubs are 3-0, with wins against Cabrillo College (a doubleheader) and College of the Redwoods.

The Bear Cubs opened their season Jan. 25 with wins, 10-0 and 4-2, over Cabrillo, and then beat College of the Redwoods 7-0 on Jan. 31.

They have hit five home runs in three games. Janae Mason, a sophomore out of Rancho Cotate, hit two homers in the opening game, while Sullivan Henry, a freshman who prepped at St. Vincent, had one.

Against Redwoods, Mason and Henry hit their third and second homers of the early season, respectively.

The Bear Cubs host Reedley at 10 a.m. Saturday followed by a 2 p.m. game against Monterey Peninsula.

Locals shine for Bear Cubs hoops

The SRJC women's basketball team snapped a two-game losing streak Friday with a 55-49 win over Modesto.

Trinity Hawkins, a freshman out of Montgomery, and Lani Lincoln, a freshman from Ukiah High, both scored 12 points in the win and Kierra Johnson, a freshman who prepped at Rancho Cotate, had 14 to lead all Bear Cubs.

Lincoln grabbed seven rebounds and Hawkins and Johnson both had six boards.

The Bear Cubs, who are 9-13 overall and 4-6 in the Big 8 Conference, travel to San Joaquin Delta Friday for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.

Sonoma Valley grad breaks her own mark at Chicago

The University of Chicago has a new pole vault record.

Sonoma Valley class of 2016 grad Isabel Garon cleared 3.74 meters (12 feet, 3 inches) to break her own school record. In the process of breaking that record, she also won the event at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawk Classic Invitational last weekend.

Garon, now a senior majoring in neuroscience, was named the University Athletic Association Athlete of the Week on Jan. 13. Garon was a first-team All-Empire track and field pick as a senior at Sonoma Valley.

Newman girls basketball rolling with nary a bump

No surprises here. The Cardinal Newman Cardinals lead the race for the North Bay League-Oak Division girls basketball title.

The Cardinals have, of course, won every NBL title since they shared the pennant with Santa Rosa in 2013-14.

They haven't lost a league game since Jan. 24, 2014.

This season, the Cardinals were 22-2 overall and 8-0 in league heading into their Tuesday night game with the Windsor Jaguars (4-19 overall, 1-7 in league).

They are ranked second in the state among Division 3 schools by MaxPreps, behind only Orangewood Academy of Garden Grove.

In the North Coast Section, they are ranked fourth among teams, regardless of division. The teams ranked above them? Salesian College Prep at No. 1, Bishop O'Dowd at No. 2 and Miramonte at No. 3.

Among Division 3 teams, the Cardinals sit at No. 1. But in NBL play there has been little competition. The Cardinals' average margin of victory? Fifty points. That is an increase from seasons past, when the differential hovered around 44 points per game.

The closest contest this season has been with the Montgomery Vikings (19-4 overall, 7-1 in league) who played to a 58-30 finish on Jan. 21. Montgomery is ranked fourth among Division 2 schools in the North Coast Section.

That makes the upcoming game between the Cardinals and the Vikings the closest thing to competition we'll see in the NBL-Oak.

Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Cardinal Newman.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 or, on Twitter @benefield and on Instagram at kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud, “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”

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