The Borchard family is having a spring to remember on the softball diamond.

Not only is Teresa Borchard coaching the nationally ranked Amador Valley High team, but her daughter, Nicole, is tearing it up as a freshman second baseman at Columbia University in New York City.

Nicole entered the week third on the Lions (18-18, 6-8 Ivy League) with a .325 batting average. She topped the team in RBIs with 24. Borchard was named Ivy League Softball Rookie of the Week on April 9 after hitting .450 (9-for-20) with six RBIs in six games.

"It's been going really well," she said of her overall experience. "I was kind of nervous for the big change going to New York City, but I've adjusted really well. Definitely being a part of the team has helped with that."

Borchard was 4 for 4 with a double and four RBIs in a 12-1 romp of Brown on April 6. In a 7-2 win over Yale, she went 3 for 3 with a RBI.

Clearly, she has adjusted well to playing on a bigger stage, in a more pressure-packed environment, while carrying a heavy academic load and learning to manage her time appropriately.

Her mom's team is doing OK, too. The Dons recently had a 4-1 record in the prestigious Michelle Carew Classic in Anaheim, then beat East Bay Athletic League foes Monte Vista and Granada last week. Nicole says playing at Amador Valley helped her prepare for college play.

"It definitely helped with the competition," she said. "More than anything, the pitching that I was facing at Amador prepared me for the pitching here."


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Nicole has stayed connected with her Amador Valley softball family though social networking.

"We have a Facebook group, so the girls that graduated last year can still talk to the girls that are on the team," she said. "Having my mom as the coach, I can always figure out how Amador's doing. I'm really interested in their success."

WATKIN A RUGBY HIT: Monte Vista football captain Rhys Watkin essentially has rugby in his DNA.

A native of Wales, where rugby is the national sport, Watkin was the Mustangs' starting right tackle and a middle linebacker last fall. In rugby with the Danville Oaks, he plays scrum-half, the vital link between the forwards and backs.

Watkin says his dad, Jared, played rugby from age 4 until college, and Rhys' grandfather, Alwyn, played rugby at a level comparable to professional.

One thing that separates rugby from other sports, Watkin assures, is the camaraderie of all the participants on the field.

"It's not just about winning," he says. "Your team can be beating the hell out of the other team, and you're still all friends after that. You don't get that in other sports, which makes rugby special."

Basically the quarterback of the Oaks offense and defense, Watkin helped the Oaks Varsity Gold Team qualify for the nationals in Elkhart, Ind., (May 15-17), a heady achievement for the young club. The Oaks were ranked No. 3 in the RugbyMag Boys High School Club Rankings, as of April 5.

Asked which is tougher to play, football or rugby, and Watkin said both are "equally tough." Football is more about explosive toughness and brute strength, while rugby demands more endurance as players are running around for 80 minutes.

The Oaks are composed of players from Monte Vista, San Ramon Valley and California high schools. The Danville program has rapidly grown in size and stature since the club started five or six years ago.

One of the Oaks' visionaries is coach Roy Helu, Jr. a former San Ramon Valley football star and current Washington Redskins running back who is of Tongan descent.

Contact Matt Schwab at mschwab@bayareanewsgroup.com, or follow him on Twitter at @schwab_matt.

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