State record coaching lists for baseball and softball have now all been updated through the 2023 season and here’s a look at the most significant milestone wins that were celebrated. For baseball, it’s more about several coaches who are right on the cusp of some huge wins with the coach moving up the most on the all-time list being Tom Dill from Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks. For softball, Rob Weil of Los Alamitos won his 700th game and there is a new member of the top five in state history.
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BASEBALL MILESTONES 2023
John Diatte (Valley Christian, San Jose)
It was a heartbreaking loss in Valley Christian’s last game to De La Salle of Concord in the CIF NorCal D1 championship game, but overall it was another great season for the Warriors and for Diatte. His team captured its 11th CIF Central Coast Section title and made it five titles in six years with an earlier win against Hollister. The team’s final 31-4 record also moved up Diatte two spots higher on the all-time state list. He only needs one more win to tie San Francisco Lowell’s John Donohue for the top spot on the all-time list for Bay Area coaches.
Tom Dill (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks)
Despite the Knights taking tough losses in the CIF Southern Section D1 playoffs and CIF SoCal D1 playoffs to Corona and La Costa Canyon, respectively, they still had a great season and ended with a 28-4 final record. Dill also was the head coach on the all-time state list this season that moved up the most with a five-spot jump. He’s almost in the top 50.
Mike Firenzi (Redwood, Larkspur)
A 7-0 win in March gave Firenzi the 500th win of his career and he has now been added to the all-time state list. Most of Firenzi’s wins came during a 20-year span when he was head coach at nearby Marin Catholic of Kentfield from 1990 to 2010. He took the job there after starting his career at lower levels at his alma mater, Redwood of Larkspur. He played for Redwood’s longtime coach Al Endriss, who put the school on the state and national map in the 1970s. Firenzi took over at Redwood prior to the 2015 season after taking a few years off.
Justin Machado (La Costa Canyon, Carlsbad)
Coach Machado’s squad began the year considered the favorite to win the CIF San Diego Section Open Division title and completed it by winning that title, and then going to the title game of the CIF SoCal D1 regional playoffs where it lost in a close game with Santa Margarita. It was the second straight SD Section Open crown for the Mavericks, who became the first school to do that in the Open Division. Machado’s program did repeat before as a CIF SD D1 champion for 2003 and 2004 and this year was his fifth section title. He should reach 600 career wins next season.
Note: It wasn’t the usual 20 wins or more this year for Walter “Spud” O’Neil of Lakewood or Michael Groves of Monterey, but the two coaches only need two wins and one win, respectively, to hit major milestones. O’Neil ended 2023 just one win from tying San Diego Rancho Bernardo’s Sam Blalock for No. 2 on the all-time state list and two from moving in front. This was O’Neil’s 40th season and the Lancers were 15-15. Groves, meanwhile, had a 12-15 season at Monterey. He only needs one more win and he’ll be celebrating No. 800. Tom Muesborn at Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth had a better season at 18-11-2 and only needs five wins next season to reach 700 for his career. This was his first season as the head coach at Sierra Canyon. His last season at Chatsworth High was 2018. Mike Mitchell from Christian of El Cajon also needs just one more win to reach 600 while Andy Hall from Wilson of Long Beach only needs eight more to reach 600.
SOFTBALL MILESTONES 2023
Jim Bennet (Poway)
We’d be remiss not to also include our State Coach of the Year in this list of milestones. Jim won the 400th game of his career this season and his team at Poway won the CIF SoCal D1 title with a victory over favored Oaks Christian in the championship game.
Jon Moore (Torrey Pines, San Diego)
With a 3-2 win over Westview of San Diego in a tournament, Moore achieved the 500th win of his career. The writeup on him afterward in the San Diego Union-Tribune came after the Falcons posted a 7-0 win over San Marcos (which was No. 504). He’s just the third in CIF San Diego Section history to get to 500 and he’s now added to the all-time state wins list. Moore is in his 28th year at Torrey Pines as a PE teacher and coach. In addition to softball, he also has been JV head coach for boys basketball all of those years. Moore’s team finished 20-9 this season and he’s won two section titles (2012, 2013).
Mike Noel (Clovis)
Despite losing four of the last five games of the season, the Cougars still finished 19-10 which enabled Noel to climb past four others on the all-time state list. In fact, with 738 wins since 1995 at the school, Noel has now moved up to No. 5. The winningest coach in CIF Central Section history needs 11 wins next season to surpass the retired Art Banks of Roseville for fourth. He was our 2017 State Coach of the Year and has won eight section titles.
John Perez (Valley View, Moreno Valley)
Following Coach Perez’s career since he left at Corona Santiago in 2016 has been difficult since you just never know where he’s going to pop up. It’s therefore hard to know if he still should be listed “current” or not. Perez was certainly current for the 2023 season at Valley View of Moreno Valley and his team was outstanding at 23-6-1, battling Riverside Poly in the Ivy League and then beating Temple City in the CIFSS D2 playoffs before losing to eventual finalist Grand Terrace. Valley View is the third Inland Empire school that Perez has coached at since Santiago. The previous two stops were at Carnegie of Riverside and Notre Dame of Riverside. If he keeps going, Perez should win his 600th game next season.
Rob Weil (Los Alamitos)
He became the 12th coach in state history to go past 700 career wins this season and his team had a good shot to end No. 1 in the state until a loss to Pacifica of Garden Grove in the CIFSS D1 semifinals. Losing to Pacifica, which went on to win the CIFSS D1 title, does provide another example of Coach Weil’s success in building a big-time program since he was the one who did that first at Pacifica from 1990 to 2005. He didn’t go immediately to Los Al in 2006, but instead waited until the 2009 season.
If there are any other coaches getting close to or who may have 500 or more wins in baseball and softball that we need to start to follow, email info to firstname.lastname@example.org.