A productive year at the plate might be an understatement when referring to the type of season Ripon Christian’s now-graduated senior Dominic Nelson just had.
Nelson, who was named the Southern League’s Outstanding Offensive Player, finished the season batting .610 overall and .713 in league.
The Knights’ catcher was one of RC’s seven all-league selections (five first teamers). The Knights’ soccer team, who lost in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VII finals against Bradshaw Christian Sacramento, had four first-team selections and two honorable mentions. RC’s softball squad had a first teamer, a second teamer and two honorable mentions recognized.
“That was one of the most impressive offensive seasons I’ve ever seen in person,” Ripon Christian’s sixth-year head coach John De Visser said of Nelson’s output. “Offensively, he was ridiculous. He was hitting line drives from gap to gap, and it was really impressive.
“I dare somebody to play a video game and try to bat .713 for a whole season.”
Nelson had 48 hits and 31 RBIs with one home run as well.
Shortstop Chris Saenz also had a home run to go with his 25 hits and 24 RBIs. The senior Saenz was also listed as an all-league first teamer on the infield.
“Chris will be playing college back east next year,” De Visser said. “He has one of the highest baseball IQs I’ve ever been around. He was the best defensive shortstop in the league.”
RC standout freshman Travis Vander Molen was also listed as first teamer on the infield. Vander Molen led the team with four home runs. He also recorded 32 hits and 19 RBIs. Vander Molen spent some time playing third base, shortstop and pitching.
“Travis hit .480 and had a great year at shortstop,” De Visser said. “But it was more his offensive prowess. He’s just ridiculous at everything. In my opinion, he’s one of the top five freshmen in the area, regardless of division.”
Knights senior Jon Vander Molen was named to the first team as an outfielder. Jon finished the season with 24 hits and 19 RBIs and batted .348.
Danny Vander Molen was the fifth Knight named to the SL All-League list as a first team pitcher.
“Danny actually kind of surprised me … and I’m his coach,” De Visser said. “I knew he was throwing exceptionally well, but then I really started looking into his numbers. He threw 28 innings and gave up two earned runs in all of league.
“He was my guy and my stopper, and to be able to do that as a sophomore is incredible.”
RC’s Mike Meyers (outfield) and Josh English (pitcher) made the second team all-league list.
Mariposa’s Liam Fieldsted and Le Grand’s Carlo Del Real were the league’s co-MVPs, while Mariposa head coach Bruce Vegely was the coach of the year.
Ripon Christian (12-2 SL, 17-10-1 overall) made the playoffs for the fourth time in six years.
“The culture has changed,” De Visser concluded. “And we’ve never had a culture in RC baseball. Once you got a foundation set up, kids buy in and think ‘We can be pretty good now’. And now I got seven kids making all-league.”
RC’s soccer squad finished 12-1-1 in the SL, 18-8-2 overall. The Knights were section runner-ups and earned a conference championship for the first time in program history.
Kaylie Colyn, Vanessa Vallo and Kaylin Groen and Teagan Manus (incoming senior) were all named to the first team All-League list. Kamryn Bylsma and Adrianna Van Groningen were honorable mentions.
Gustine’s now-graduated senior Stephanie Misquez was crowned the SL’s soccer MVP.
The Knights’ softball team finished sixth in the league and had Shelby Vrieling (first team pitcher) and Courtney Perrilliat (second team infield) recognized.
Ripon Christian, who finished 4-10 in the league, also had Jenny Wickham and Alex Eastham listed as honorable mentions.
Waterford’s Kylie Ragsdale took home the league’s MVP award on the softball diamond.