Five Lincoln baseball players honored by PVL

Maldonado, Foster, Sandoval named all-league
By: Russ Edmondson, The News Messenger
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Lincoln High’s varsity baseball team had five players honored by the Pioneer Valley League for their play this season. Seniors Dusty Foster and Elvis Sandoval and junior Marcus Maldonado each made the all-PVL team. Eighteen players were picked for this squad. Teammates, seniors Austin Pleich and Leland Smith, earned an Honorable Mention (received at least one vote for all league). Maldonado and Pleich were Lincoln’s primary starting pitchers while all five players had strong seasons offensively. Maldonado batted .404 (38-for-96) with 26 runs scored, 13 RBI, 23 steals and eight doubles while Foster hit .384 (33-86) with 21 runs scored, 21 RBI, 10 steals, one homer and eight doubles. Sandoval (outfield, second base) hit .354 (28-79) with 26 runs scored, 13 RBI, 13 steals and eight doubles. Sandoval also led the team with an on base percentage of .495. Foster and Sandoval are both cousins of Maldonado. “It means a lot (to make all-league with his cousins) – we always do everything together and are always messing around with each other,” said Maldonado, before talking about what stood out about this season to him. “Just growing up with all these kids – I have been held back a year (in middle school) and I should have been a senior . . . just seeing all the other kids go out (and graduate) and I wanted to do that this year.” Pleich (pitcher, first base) and Smith (third base) also played a big role in helping Lincoln go 8-5 in the PVL this year – good enough for a playoff spot. Pleich batted .329 (25-76) with 21 runs scored, 16 RBI, three homers, two steals and seven doubles while Smith hit .355 (27-76) with 19 runs scored, 12 RBI, one homer, four steals and five doubles. “Leland’s leadership (stands out),” said Rick Foster, who co-coached the Lincoln team with Dave Foxworthy. “He’s a quiet leader and was voted by the kids as most inspirational . . . And Austin stepped up huge. He grew about three inches and put on 25 pounds and he just had a very good year (offensively) and he was out No. 2 pitcher as well.” Foster was pleased with what Maldonado and Pleich brought to the mound this season. “They kept us in games,” Foster said. “Marcus had another outstanding year on the mound and when they were on the mound (Maldonado or Pleich) we knew we had an outstanding chance of winning. We were 8-5 in league and as the season went on those guys really knuckled down and had some of their best games.” Maldonado had a record of 5-2 in league as a starting pitcher. “I really just worked hard at practice and usually was leading a drill or something,” Maldonado said. “Not letting anybody let up or anything.” Foster called the three all-PVL players the “three amigos.” “That’s what they were known as,” said Foster about Maldonado, Sandoval and Dusty Foster. “And what people don’t know is that at certain times they all played out of position this year. At the beginning of the year we figured we’d have Marcus, Dusty and Elvis in the outfield. But Dusty had to play shortstop all year because we didn’t have anybody else to play short and Elvis played some second base as well as outfield.” Sandoval and Pleich will tryout for the baseball team at American River College while Smith will tryout for Sierra College. Foster will attend Sierra but doesn’t plan on playing college baseball. “I got a call from the Butte coach about Dusty,” said Rick Foster, Dusty’s father. “(The coach) said he will keep him in mind and if (Dusty) wants to play next year than he is welcome to try out for the team.” Maldonado doesn’t know what baseball team he will play for this summer. “I’m looking for a couple teams (this summer) – I got a hold of a couple teams but I haven’t heard back yet,” he said. “I was going to play for the summer team for the high school (like he did last year) but I don’t know if we’ll have enough kids.” He plans on playing baseball in college after graduating from Lincoln next year. “Basically my plan is to play for Butte Community College in Oroville and then hopefully play for Chico State," Maldonado said. “I have talked to the coaches at Butte and that’s my main plan.”