I loved going to the field every day. I got some good input from our coaches, and it made me become more of a leader. Now, I can step in and do that [at LMU].
From Glendale to the Great White North – Two Local athletes make trek to Alaska to improve their skills while competing for Alaska Goldpanners.
By Charles Rich
August 07, 2009
GLENDALE — After playing Little League baseball together for several summers around Glendale, Evan Simonitsch and Jesse Meaux found themselves reunited this summer.
This time they were teammates on the Alaska Goldpanners of Fairbanks in the Alaska Baseball League between late June and early August.
Simonitsch and Meaux each made their inaugural visits to Alaska to improve their skills after competing at Loyola Marymount University and UC Santa Barbara, respectively. They competed on an organization featuring an established alumni base ranging from Tom Seaver to Dave Winfield to Barry Bonds.
They fared well for the Goldpanners, who are a summer collegiate league team composed of Division I athletes from around parts of the country.
“When I first chose to go up there, I looked at the roster to see if there’s anybody I knew,” said Simonitsch, a St. Francis High graduate who played and started in all 49 games for Fairbanks (22-27) in the outfield. “I was close to going to UCSB, where I would have played with Jesse, but it’s a small world that we’d come together at this point of our careers.
“It was good for me to go to Alaska because I got to play in all of the games and I learned a lot of different things that can help me out.”
Meaux, a Glendale High graduate and a former All-Area member, worked extensively on his pitching mechanics.
Meaux received encouragement from UCSB pitching Coach Tom Myers to make the trek to Alaska.
“He told me that it would be a great experience,” Meaux said. “I knew that I’d be up there for seven or eight weeks, so I knew that I wanted to make the best of it.
“I got to live the Alaskan lifestyle, but we were also playing baseball all the time. I was able to get some great experience starting and facing great competition.”
Simonitsch, a former All-Area selection who helped lead St. Francis to the CIF Southern Section Division II championship contest in 2006, batted .280 (46 for 164) with two home runs and 21 runs batted in. He added six doubles and scored 25 runs.
During his redshirt sophomore season with LMU (30-29, 13-8 in the West Coast Conference), Simonitsch batted .248 with 12 runs batted in.
In Alaska, Meaux went 1-1 with a 3.32 earned-run average in 11 appearances (seven starts). The right-hander struck out 24 in 38 innings.
At UCSB, Meaux went 3-0 with a 6.80 ERA in 18 appearances (seven starts). He struck out 31 in 43 2/3 innings with the Gauchos, who went 29-23 and 11-13 in the Big West Conference.
Simonitsch and Meaux left Alaska optimistic about their prospects entering next season.
“It’s good when you get to play guys from all around the country,” said Simonitsch, one of 20 athletes from California on the Goldpanners. “You learn more about yourself, and you do things over and over.
“I loved going to the field every day. I got some good input from our coaches, and it made me become more of a leader. Now, I can step in and do that [at LMU].”
Meaux said pitching with the Goldpanners, who have existed since 1960, might help him make a smooth transition to the mound next season with UCSB.
“I faced some great batters, and it will help my confidence,” Meaux said.