SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s first baseball-softball NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week are Vallery Wong from Grant of Sacramento and Eamonn Lance from Sir Francis Drake of San Anselmo. Photos: Courtesy family & Twitter.com.


This is the first week in which we’re honoring baseball and softball players for 2018-19 school year. The two from SoCal are emerging sophomores from Huntington Beach and Corona. The two from NorCal already have put up impressive numbers earlier in their careers and represent San Anselmo and Sacramento.

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate someone by 12 noon on most Mondays, email markjtennis@gmail.com.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Eamonn Lance
(Sir Francis Drake, San Anselmo) Jr.

The way Drake catcher Lance has been stroking the ball at the plate in the first five games for the 4-1 Pirates has not exactly had opposing pitchers dancing on the mound when he steps into the batter’s box.

Last week, in a 5-2 victory over Arroyo of San Lorenzo, it was Lance that was doing the dancing around the bases after he stroked two home runs and drove in all five of the Drake runs, plus he scored twice. Later in the week, and in a 5-1 win over Washington of San Francisco, Eamonn was 2-for-2 at the plate just like against Arroyo, hit one home run, drove in two and scored twice.

In a 3-0 win over San Rafael on Monday, he hit that fourth round-tripper which ties Lance for the most reported home runs in the state.

So far this season, Eamonn has demonized pitchers by hitting all four of Drake’s home runs while batting an even .500 with eight RBI and five runs scored.

According to Pirates head coach Will Mosley, the Santa Clara-bound backstop even spanked the ball in the one game they lost against a tough Heritage (Brentwood) pitching staff with two foul home runs, two laser shot outs, and he broke up the no-hitter in the fourth with one of Drake’s two hits.

“The ball comes off his bat hot,” Mosley remarked. “It comes off at around 99 miles per hour on a standing swing and over a hundred on a moving swing.”

Caden Aoki has already gained some fame as a sophomore for the game he had last week vs. Mater Dei. Photo: YouTube.com.


Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Caden Aoki
(Edison, Huntington Beach) Soph.

For our first Southern California baseball honoree, we go to Orange County where we honor a sophomore pitcher and batter that picked a great time to come up with a huge performance both on the mound and in the batter’s box.

Last week, in a 3-0 victory over a Mater Dei of Santa Ana team that was undefeated at the time, Caden spun a one-hitter and struck out seven while only needing 68 pitches to complete the victory.

At the plate, he had an RBI double against Mater Dei and for the entire week in which Edison won three games, Aoki was 4-for-9 with a home run and five runs batted in.

Now, after being named our SoCal baseball award winner, Aoki can add a statewide honor to him already being named the Orange County boys athlete of the week by the Orange County Register.

Older brother Connor Aoki was on last year’s team at Edison and is now at Binghampton University in New York.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Softball Player of the Week

Vallery Wong
(Grant, Sacramento) Sr.

It’s time to switch from girls basketball to softball so for our first Northern California girls award winner we go to the state capital where we find a young woman who has come out of the box, the batter’s box that is, and the circle as well, as hot as can be.

The Pacers have only played one game partly due to weather, and it was a hard-fought 7-6 victory at crosstown Mira Loma, but they couldn’t have done it without Wong.

The University of Oregon-committed senior shortstop went 3-for-4 with two triples, a double, four RBI and four runs scored.

Proving you can’t go wrong with Wong, she even did something she rarely had done before in her high school career. At the same time she was smacking the ball around at the plate she was called on by Pacers head coach Richard Sanders to take the circle in relief where she pitched three innings, and while she did give up some hits and runs, Vallery fanned seven batters.

Grant has not had a tremendous amount of success during Wong’s four-year varsity career, but even so she’s posted a .510 career batting average. She’s clearly been one of the top players in the Sacramento Metro area.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Savannah Hooks
(Santiago, Corona) Soph.

It’s out to the Inland Empire we go for our girls Southern California softball winner where we find a sophomore pitcher and slugger that is a big reason the Sharks have been biting and are off to a 5-1-1 start this season, and will be knocking on the door of the first state rankings that will be out soon.

Because this is our first week switching from girls basketball to softball for our players of the week, and with teams like Santiago already playing seven games going into a Thursday game against crosstown arch rival Centennial, we looked back a few days beyond last week for our first week’s honoree.

Last week, in a 2-1 win over a Los Alamitos team that was No. 3 in the preseason rankings and nationally-ranked, she pitched a two-hitter with five strikeouts and the run Hooks gave up was unearned in dealing the Griffins their only loss of the season.

The Saturday before last she tossed a three-hitter with six fanned in a 7-1 victory over preseason No. 20 Mater Dei. Her best outing was three weeks ago in a 3-3 tie with preseason No. 2 Orange Lutheran where Savannah had 10 strikeouts and gave up only four hits, plus she had an RBI single. In the Sharks only loss, a 2-1 setback to preseason No. 18 Great Oak of Temecula, she only gave up two hits and struck out seven.

So far this season Hooks has a 0.97 ERA with only 15 hits and 40 strikeouts, and she’s only given up five earned runs in 40 innings pitched, and it’s come against some of the state’s best teams. She’s also batting .385 and has driven in five runs.

With the way she’s dominating in the circle, it’s not likely new head coach Jackie Sweet is going to be giving Hooks the hook very much this season.

Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at marketingharoldabend@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend


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