November 13 marked the first National Signing Day of the 2019-20 school year, and with that, 12 Lancer student-athletes made their commitments to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level.
Families and friends of the 12 Orange Lutheran students gathered in the Nechita Center to celebrate and honor the hard work, determination, and perseverance required for such an achievement. OLu Athletic Director Paul Jones opened the ceremony by recognizing the parents of all the students and the commitment they have made to help ensure their athlete’s success.
“You guys have done such an awesome job in raising these students to help them see their goals,” said Jones of the parents. “You have…literally taken on every role. So I thank you for the partnership with these students and for trusting us to partner with you to raise your students up in the way they should go. They’ve been such great examples on our campus, and I know none of that is possible without you.”
Four Lancer softball players made their college commitments, and OLu head softball coach Steve Miklos shared how each player has worked hard to take their sport to the next level.
“I would like to congratulate these four players,” Miklos said. “They’ve taken their God-given talents and have worked really hard to achieve their goals. I’m a big believer in goal-setting, and all of them had goals to play in college. Besides just having the talent to do it, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work, and these girls have worked really hard.”
Outfielder Brenna Begin will continue her softball career at Arizona State University. As a transfer her junior year, Begin made an immediate impact on the Lancer team, both offensively and defensively. With a career batting average of .352, Begin is described as “feisty,” and her playing style earned her 2nd Team All-Trinity League honors in 2019.
“Brenna is an outstanding defensive outfielder who gets a great read off the bat and makes the difficult plays look easy,” Miklos said. “She is a highly skilled slapper who gets our offense going at the top of our lineup. [She is] the kind of player where you’d love to have her on your team, but the opposing team does not like her because she puts a lot of pressure on the defense.”
The future Sun Devil offered thanks to her family, coaches, and friends for their impact on both her softball career and her life.
“Thank you [to] everyone who got me here on my journey,” Begin said. “It’s been a blessing, and I’m excited.”
Four-year varsity player Victoria Fragoso signed to play softball for the University of Kentucky. Known for keeping things light in the dugout, the La Mirada resident was an All-Trinity League honoree in both 2017 (2nd Team) and 2019 (1st Team). Her career stats include a .297 batting average, 42 RBIs and six home runs. Fragoso also serves her campus community as an Ignite Mentor.
“Victoria is a player who has been a mainstay in our middle infield since her arrival four years ago,” Miklos said. “She is a solid contact hitter with pop and the player you want up in clutch hitting situations. Victoria is a leader on the team and keeps her teammates loose with her humor.”
Fragoso thanked God for her abilities and acknowledged her friends and family for helping to guide her as she prepares to take the next steps in her playing career.
“First off, I’d like to thank God for allowing me the opportunity to play at the next level,” Fragoso said. “I’d like to thank all of my friends and family who have supported me throughout this process. A huge thanks to my parents. They’ve gone above and beyond for me and have made me the person I am today. I wouldn’t be here without you guys. And to my sister, thanks for being my biggest supporter.”
Tayler Holcroft has committed to playing softball for the University of Nevada, Reno. Holcroft transferred to OLu her sophomore year and continually shows a level of dedication to her sport that is often unmatched. She has a career batting average of .300 with five home runs and is slated to play third base for the Lancers this season.
“Tayler has one of the prettiest swings I’ve seen in all my years of coaching,” Miklos said. “She is continually striving to improve upon her skills with extra practice. A solid hitter with power, she will solidify the middle of our batting order and is expected to drive in a lot of runs for us this season.”
Holcroft knows that a solid support system is an important part of success in athletics, and she has that with her family and coaches.
“First I’d like to say thank you to my parents because they’re kind of awesome…and all the hard work they do, I couldn’t ask for a better family,” Holcroft said. “And second, I’d like to thank all my softball coaches for everything, for always believing in me, even when I don’t believe in myself. I couldn’t ask for a better support system, and I’m really excited to go to college.”
Standout pitcher Taryn Lennon will be continuing her playing career at BYU. With a career record of 16-4 and ERA of 2.39, the All-Trinity League honoree and Ignite Mentor will bring her versatility, hard work, and speed to her senior season.
“Taryn is a four-year varsity player who excels in both the outfield and in the pitching circle,” Miklos said. “She will be spending the majority of her time this season as the ace of our staff. She has great command of the curve and changeup. Offensively, Taryn is a line-drive hitter with power and is an exceptional baserunner.”
Lennon congratulated her fellow signees and recognized the impact that family, coaches, and teammates can have on achieving dreams.
“I first off wanted to start by congratulating everyone on this stage,” Lennon said. “We did it! You guys deserve everything and more. I also want to thank my friends, family, and coaches for always supporting me and helping my dreams become reality. Without you guys, I would not be here. I also want to give a shout out to my dad and my sister, Reagan. Thank you guys for being my number one fans, practice buddies and best friends through life. I love you guys.”
Lancer baseball head coach Eric Borba took to the stage next to honor five senior players who have committed to continuing their playing careers at the collegiate level, and he recognized the impact this graduating class has had on the OLu baseball program.
“Between those five guys, there’s 19 years of varsity baseball experience,” Borba said. “That’s over 70 wins over the past three years, and hopefully a lot more this year. Obviously these guys have been in the dugout with me for a long time and a big part of our success. It’s probably the best three-year run in the history of Orange Lutheran baseball, and these guys are largely attributed to that.”
Chad Born, a three-year varsity player and All-Trinity League honoree in 2018 and 2019, will be headed to the University of Miami to continue his baseball career. Born was a key component in the Lancers last two NHSI championships, having reached base in the first inning in each of the eight games in which he played.
“Chad has been perhaps our most consistent player for the past two years,” Borba said. “He has been in the leadoff spot in nearly every game he has played and been the table-setter for us. Although he is not the most vocal guy, he is the quintessential ‘lead by example’ type of player that is needed.”
The support of family and teammates he considers to be his brothers was central to Born’s gratitude.
“First off, I want to thank my family,” Born said. “They’re always there to support me, and I can’t thank them enough for all they do for me each and every day. I also want to thank my coaches, teammates, and friends. I love each and every one of them, whether they know it or not, and I appreciate the love and support they give me. I’m glad to be able to call them my brothers.”
Infielder Tank Espalin is headed to USC to play baseball for the Trojans. His 2019 stats include a .250 batting average, 9 RBIs and 6 runs. He has battled through some injuries over his career but possesses a rare combination of speed and power.
“Tank transferred in as a sophomore and made an immediate impact on our ball club,” Borba said. “He is one of the top infield prospects in Southern California and will be a key to our success this year. The growth that he’s shown over the last two-and-a-half years at Orange Lutheran has been amazing. He’s really become a guy that I think our younger players really look up to…I admire that about him.”
Espalin immediately felt a part of the Lancer family when he joined the team and is grateful to his parents and the coaches for helping him grow as a player and a person.
“First off, I’d like to thank the coaching staff here at OLu for really welcoming me with open arms when I transferred here from San Dimas,” Espalin said. “I’d like to thank all my teammates for always being there for me and supporting me. I’d like to thank my family, my mom and my dad…and Coach Borba for being a leader to everyone and for showing us not only how to play baseball, but how to do things the right way.”
A dual-threat on both sides of the ball and a four-year varsity player, pitcher Max Rajcic will continue his playing career for the Bruins of UCLA.
Rajcic has a long list of accolades he has achieved while being a Lancer, including being selected by the Orange County Register as the 2019 OC Varsity Pitcher of the Year. He is a three-time All-Trinity League honoree and was the Trinity League Co-MVP in 2018. His 2019 stats include a stunning 0.55 ERA and an 8-1 record.
“Max is one of the best overall players to ever come through Orange Lutheran baseball,” Borba said. “He is the ultimate kid that can make things as laid back, relaxed and enjoyable for a coach and for his teammates out on the field because he always finds a way to make you smile. No matter what it is he’s doing, he finds a way to find joy in it and make the other people around him enjoy it that much more. But when he’s on the mound, you can see the fire in his eyes.”
UCLA has been Rajcic’s dream school since he was young, and he acknowledged the talent that God has blessed him with, along with the brotherhood that is Lancer baseball.
“I’d like to thank God first,” Rajcic said. “Without Him, I would not be able to accomplish any of this. Second, I would like to thank my parents. Third, I’d like to thank Coach Borba, as well as the rest of the coaching staff. Coach Borba has helped me become a better baseball player and also a better Christian. Without OLu baseball, I’d be nowhere that I am today. And lastly, I’d like to thank my teammates, my brothers who made baseball fun…I thank you. I wouldn’t want to do this with any other group. I call you guys my brothers.”
Also on the mound for the Lancers is pitcher Christian Rodriguez who is headed to Cal State Fullerton. The first player at OLu to be in the starting varsity pitching rotation as a freshman, the four-year varsity player has a Lancer career ERA of 1.75 with eight wins. Coached by Borba on the USA Baseball 12U team in 2014, Rodriguez and Rajcic are poised to be the best 1-2 starting pitching combination in the country this season.
“He’s also, like Max, an ultimate competitor,” Borba said. “If you watch any of our games, you can constantly see Christian and his fire and his love and his passion to win. Whatever it is, he finds a way to make the team a little bit better and compete at a little bit higher level.”
Coached by his father since he was a young player, Rodriguez is grateful for the impact his family has had on his playing career.
“First off, I want to thank God for the opportunity he’s given me to have my baseball abilities,” Rodriguez said. “Without Him, I wouldn’t be in this place with my teammates and everyone here. Another main part of my baseball ability is my family. My family is a very big contributor to my baseball success. Thank you to Coach Borba for everything he’s done for me since I was 12. A big thanks to my boys out there. Without you guys, I don’t know where I’d be. I love you guys.”
Known for being a versatile player, Grayson Tarlow signed with Cal State Northridge. While he can play in the infield or outfield, Tarlow will be a catcher for the Matadors and is the “ultimate team player” who can be put in any situation and be trusted to get the job done.
“He’s one that I have a ton of respect for because he has kind of grinded it out here at Orange Lutheran,” Borba said. “He’s not the one getting his name in the paper and articles all the time. But he’s just been that guy who has a consistent focus on what he is as a player and who he’s going to be. He goes about his business the right way. He hasn’t necessarily been an everyday starter for us, but you’re really seeing the hard work and dedication pay off this year.”
Tarlow recognized the impact his parents and sister have had on his playing career, and he cited one of his favorite Bible verses that has helped him keep his focus.
“The hard work and the struggles I’ve gone through have helped me as a player just become a better person,” Tarlow said. “One verse I always referred to when I went through that is Jeremiah 29:11 which says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future.’ So that just really always helped me whenever I’m playing and gave me that mentality that you can keep going.”
From the volleyball court, Amanda Albertini will play volleyball for UC Irvine. Albertini was part of the Lancer team that claimed the CIF-SS Division 2 championship in 2017. She was also on the 2017 USA Volleyball Youth National Training Team and is a two-time All-Trinity League honoree.
“Amanda is one of the most versatile volleyball players I’ve ever had the opportunity of coaching,” said OLu girls volleyball interim head coach, Jacob Jordan. “She is a true competitor and leader on the court and has been a blessing to be able to coach. She continually worked to get better in every aspect of her volleyball skills. She puts up a huge block and really moves the ball around on the court with her hitting. She truly is a versatile player.”
The three-year varsity player will be graduating at the end of the semester and will head to UCI in the spring.
“I’m so thankful for my mom and my dad for all they’ve done for me,” Albertini said. “And to all the coaches who believed in me and really pushed me, I couldn’t have done it without all of them. My time here at OLu has been an incredible experience, on and off the court, and I’ve really just loved every minute of it. I’m so thankful for all that I’ve been blessed with, and even though high school is coming to a close, I’m so excited for what’s ahead of me.”
Four-year varsity swimmer and Lancer team captain Ashley Savoie will be continuing her career in the pool for the University of San Diego. A CIF qualifier all four years, Savoie swam as a Division 1 qualifier in the 50 yard and 100-yard freestyle events as well as the teams relays.
“Ashley has been a great ambassador for the school and our sport,” said OLu aquatics head coach, Steve Carrera. “She has dedicated her athletic career to becoming the best swimmer she can be with the help of her high school coaches and club coaches. She’s been one of the anchors of our swim team for the last three years, and we’re expecting a monumental season for her this year. She’s been able to not only build relationships on the swim team but across the entire aquatics program. She is an inspiration to the lower classmen, and we are very proud of her.”
Savoie acknowledges all who have been instrumental in getting her to the next level in her swim career.
“I just wanted to thank my family for putting up with me the past four years and for driving me to my 5:00 am practices,” Savoie said. “And I want to thank my teachers for getting me to this place. And to my coaches for always pushing me to be the best that I can be, and for believing in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. And I want to thank my friends for always being there for me and coming to support me.”
Only in her third year in rowing, Olivia Krum will be a port side rower at the University of Michigan. She tried the sport for the first time as a sophomore and found her passion. At Newport Aquatics Center, Krum was selected as MVP and Most Inspirational, as voted on by her coaches.
“Olivia has been a light on our campus and is a positive example of a student-athlete, as well as a leader on our campus,” said OLu Athletics Director, Paul Jones. “As a student at OLu…Olivia has maintained a cumulative GPA of 4.4 through her four years as a student here, which is no small feat. She has also been named to the National Honor Society (NHS), Honor Roll and is part of the STEM Academy as well as Student Leadership.
Krum spent her summer in New London, CT training with the USRowing U19 Junior National Development Team and is excited to represent the Wolverines at the next level in her sport.
“When I walked through the doors of Orange Lutheran three years ago, I never imagined I’d be on this stage today, much less for rowing, a sport I had never tried,” Krum said. “But rowing caused me to reimagine many aspects of my life, pushing me beyond what I thought possible. I thank God every day for this opportunity to continue my passion, and I’m beyond excited for these next four years. I would not be up here today if it wasn’t for the endless support of my teammates, the encouragement of my friends, my coaches pushing me to go beyond my limits each and every day and, of course, for my family. Thank you for all the sacrifices you have made and for being my biggest cheerleaders every step of the way. And thank you to Orange Lutheran for my counselors and my teachers for being flexible with me and my schedule and for supporting me every step of the way.”
Jones and those in attendance applauded the signees for their current achievements and their future success in their sports, knowing that their journeys are just beginning.
“I’m so proud of all of you up on this stage because you are the epitome of discipline, commitment and just grit,” Jones said. “The discipline and commitment that it takes to be up on this stage as a student-athlete is huge. Not only do you get it done on your respective athletic surfaces, but you also get it done in the classroom. Thank you for being such awesome examples for the rest of our students as student-athletes in character and leadership. You all have done an awesome job.”