We had a handful of locals make it to the professional ranks, a Condors coach lose his gig and a local legend return home. And that's just the start of it.
A look at the top-10 local college a pro sports moments from 2018:
Three reach the big leagues
Centennial graduate Corbin Burnes made the best of his Major League Baseball mid-season call up. As a rookie for the Milwaukee Brewers, Burnes was called up in July and finished the regular season with a 7-0 record out of the bullpen and a 2.61 ERA. He had 35 strikeouts in 38 innings and made six appearances in the playoffs for Milwaukee. Also, Ridgeview and Bakersfield College graduate Justin Miller was a stalwart in the bullpen for the Washington Nationals with a 7-1 record, a 3.61 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings. And former Cal State Bakersfield pitcher Austin Davis made his MLB debut for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2018, recording a 4.15 ERA in 32 games out of the bullpen.
Fleming out as Condors coach
Gerry Fleming, who served as head coach of the Condors for the first three years of the team’s existence in the American Hockey League, was fired at the end of the 2017-2018 season and replaced with longtime NHL assistant Jay Woodcroft. The Condors did not make the playoffs during Fleming’s time at the helm.
NASCAR star and Bakersfield native Kevin Harvick returned to his roots in March and competed at Kern County Raceway for the first time in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race. Harvick, who graduated from North High, was the West Series champion in 1998.
Stockdale grad drops 50-plus for BC
Bakersfield College sophomore guard Tucker Eenigenburg scored 51 points on Jan. 27 in a game against College of the Canyons to lead BC to an 87-81 home victory. The Stockdale High grad was 13-of-21 from the field, 8-of-12 from 3-point range and made all 17 of his free throws.
Renegades’ remarkable run
The Bakersfield College volleyball team had a remarkable season come to a close with a loss to Fresno City College in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs in late November. BC was ranked No. 2 in the state heading into the playoffs and finished the season 25-2. It was the first state playoff appearance for BC since 2009. The Renegades softball program also had a year to remember, compiling a 33-11 overall record, 13-1 mark in conference play and a deep run in the SoCal Regional playoffs. They were anchored by Liberty graduate Kylee Fahy in the pitching circle.
Reed reaches the NFL
Independence High grad D.J. Reed left Kansas State after his junior season and the defensive back was selected by San Francisco in the fifth round of the National Football League 2018 Draft. He had his best game of the season on Dec. 9 in a 20-14 win over Denver, recording a game-high 12 tackles (10 solo and three for a loss), and the first sack and forced fumble of his NFL career.
Wallace gets his shot in NBA
Former Bakersfield High standout Tyrone Wallace was called up to the Los Angeles Clippers from the G League in January, becoming the first player from Bakersfield to make an NBA roster since 2004. Wallace made the most of his opportunity, playing out the season with the Clippers and signing a two-year, $2.9-million contract with the team during the summer.
Hutson hired as head man at Fresno State
Bakersfield native Justin Hutson was hired as head basketball coach at Fresno State in April, his first head coaching job at the Division I level. Hutson played at Bakersfield High and Cal State Bakersfield. He served as an assistant at Cal Poly San Obispo and UNLV before a long run as an assistant at San Diego State.
Jordan Love shines in bowl game
Jordan Love capped his sophomore season by throwing for 359 yards and four touchdowns to lead Utah State to a 52-13 win over North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl. Utah State finished the season 11-2. On the season, Love — a Liberty grad — was 267 of 417 through the air for 3,567 yards and 32 touchdowns to just six interceptions. He averaged 274 passing yards per game.
Notable local sports figures pass away
Lonnie Shelton, a Foothill graduate who played 10 years in the National Basketball Association, died July 8 in Los Angeles. Shelton, who was 62, suffered a minor heart attack two months prior and then fell into coma. He was one of the greatest high school athletes to come out of Bakersfield, took the collegiate hardwood at Oregon State, and then had a solid NBA career most notably with the Seattle Supersonics. He averaged 12 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, more than 1 steal and nearly 1 block per game. He was named to the 1982 NBA All-Star team. Some other notable deaths in the Kern County sports community in 2018 were former Major League Baseball umpire Bob Engel, who worked in MLB for 25 years. Engel, who was 84 years old, was former president of the umpires union and worked World Series in 1972, 1979 and 1985; Tod Denison, a former Garces girls basketball coach who succumbed to cancer at 59. From 2006 to 2015, Denison compiled a 236-36 career record and won two Central Section championships with the Rams; and renowned local motorsports driver Digger Helm, who was 79.