There were only three pitchers in the Arizona Community College Athletic Association stingier than Pima Community College right-hander Robbie Nickols during the regular season.
PCC is hoping Nickols can shut down Arizona Western at 3 p.m. today in Game 1 of the ACCAC playoffs in Yuma.
Nickols, a Sabino High School graduate, was fourth in the ACCAC with a 1.39 earned run average in 71 innings. He finished with a 7-2 record.
“We’re coming off two sweeps and we’re hitting the ball well right now,” he said. “Our defense is solid. We’ve stayed focused and come together as a team.”
Pitching has played a major role in the Aztecs coming together. Their 2.48 team ERA leads the conference, with more help from Chapo Delgado (Sahuarita) and Jesus Hernandez (Desert View), who each have 2.43 ERAs.
Nickols saw Pima get eliminated from the playoffs last season. He believes they are capable of advancing further this season.
“All around we’re a much solid team,” he said. “We have guys who are power hitters, and we have guys that can run.
“At the beginning of the year, we would have guys on second base and no outs, and we wouldn’t score. Now they’re doing their job.”
And so is Nickols.
Meet the Cardinals: Team holds ‘Fan Fest’ in Tempe
Wanna see Edgerrin James?
The Cardinals will hold their annual “Fan Fest” Saturday morning on the second day of the team’s three-day minicamp. It will be held at the team’s training facility at the corner of Warner and Hardy roads in Tempe.
The festivities run from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The team will practice from 10:15 a.m. to noon.
An autograph session for kids 17 and younger will follow. Each child is permitted to have one item signed by each player.
There is free parking north and west of the facility.
The Arizona Republic
Walton gets into the fray, calls foul ‘good, clean play’
Former Arizona Wildcat Luke Walton has been at the forefront of the physical Los Angeles Lakers-Phoenix Suns playoff series, in addition to the Raja Bell-Kobe Bryant duel.
Walton was involved in a Game 4 controversy when he tussled and tied up Steve Nash to force a jump ball in overtime. Suns fans thought Walton should have been called for a foul.
“I’ll put an end to all that,” Walton said. “It was a good, clean play.”
And what about his foot being out of bounds?
“I didn’t see all that,” he said.
The Arizona Republic
Who needs character? Miami signs Marcus Vick
The NFL gives players second chances, but the Dolphins are carrying it to a new level.
Miami signed Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick as a free-agent, a year after it took back Ricky Williams (only to see him fail another NFL drug test and be banned for a season).
Vick, the younger brother of Atlanta’s Michael Vick, will take part in Miami’s rookie minicamp beginning Friday.
The junior’s troubled career at Virginia Tech included repeated brushes with the law and ended when he was kicked off the team for stomping on the leg of a fallen foe in the Gator Bowl.
“This is the steal of the draft class,” Tommy Reamon, his high school coach in Newport News, Va., told reporters. “He’s the most versatile player the Dolphins have had in years.”
And potentially the most volatile.
Parting words: Bell slams Suns’ chances with foul
A Tucson Citizen reader called the Phoenix Suns’ Raja Bell an “overrated punk and cheapshot artist.”
The NBA essentially agreed yesterday, suspending the defensive stopper tonight for clotheslining the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant in Game 5, Bell’s second flagrant foul of the series.
I don’t think Bell is an “overrated punk.” He had the impossible task of guarding Bryant, who is held to a different standard as a superstar.
“Kobe gets away with whatever he wants,” the Suns’ Steve Nash told reporters.
That said, the NBA had no choice but to suspend Bell because the technical – called by official Leon Wood, a former UA player – was a second offense, and the league is cracking down on such behavior in the playoffs.
What’s sad is the penalty could cost the Suns a chance to win the series. Phoenix has a right to feel cheated, considering the no-foul calls when Nash was mugged at the end of Game 4.
Still, Bell should not have stooped to Bryant’s level when Kobe baited him with elbows.
And Bell didn’t take the high road Wednesday, calling Bryant “pompous” and “arrogant.” Let your defense do the talking, Raja.