Benefield: Credo High celebrating a milestone with NCS baseball win
It wasn’t so long ago that Credo High School athletic director Kim Holland had trouble scheduling games for the Gryphons’ baseball team because of, well, that pesky mercy rule. It seems the Gryphons struggled to be competitive early on.
Credo, a Waldorf-inspired high school in Rohnert Park, opened in 2011 and spent the first couple of years as an independent athletic program. That meant they were not in a league and Holland had to schedule games school by school. It also meant other schools could say ‘No thanks’ to games. And they often did.
It also meant victories in those early days had to come in ways other than the traditional win-loss column.
“They’d hit the ball and the parents would go crazy,” she said of Credo fans in the beginning. “If they got on base, it was insanity.”
Boy, have times changed. And Holland gives head coach John Aliotti a lot of the credit.
“John came three years ago and totally built the program from the ground up,” she said.
And by “up” she likely means this: On Saturday, the second-seeded Credo Gyphons beat the No. 1 seed South Fork Cubs 8-3 to win the North Coast Section Division 6 baseball title. It’s the first section title in any sport in school history.
“It’s a big deal,” she said.
From the opening bell of the season, Aliotti felt the team had the tools to earn the school’s first banner, but he didn’t make it a focus of too much discussion. Plus, he wasn’t too far removed from the pain of losing in the first round of last year’s NCS tournament despite having secured the No. 3 seed.
So yes, Aliotti was a believer that his crew could make history, but no, he wasn’t keen to talk much about it.
“We didn’t talk about it a lot, but they knew,” Aliotti said. “They very much wanted it. That was one of the things that was driving them.”
Instead, they focused on what Aliotti deems “the little things.”
“You can’t hit a six-run homer. Don’t try to get three outs on a throw to first,” he said. “You have picked 1,000 ground balls, you have caught 1,000 pop flies. You fight pressure by rising against it. You rise by doing all of the little things you know how to do.”
The Gyphons finished second in the North Central League II and were 12-5 coming into the playoffs. They were also feeling confident, according to junior center fielder Cole Gregory.
“I felt kind of a difference over the whole team,” he said. “Everyone just seemed ready. Everyone was into it.”
But the Gryphons came into South Fork knowing very little about the defending Division 6 champion Cubs other than that their shining star was senior pitcher and cleanup hitter C.J. Van Meter.
“We had very little,” Aliotti said. “It was all stats. We knew their pitcher was very good. His stat lines were quite shocking.”
Shocking: Van Meter, had a 0.11 ERA with a 6-2 record for the Cubs. On offense, he was hitting .423, with 21 RBIs and two homers in 52 at-bats.