NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week (and we hope it’s not the last ones of the school year) are senior D1-bound Savannah Whatley from Heritage of Brentwood and Luca Martinez of San Marcos (San Diego County). Photos: &

No sooner did we get started with baseball and softball Players of the Week than due to circumstances way beyond our control this will be the last one for at least a few weeks and until we find out if spring sports will resume. Hopefully, we will be able to re-start this feature this season. Be as it may, we have four very solid honorees from Larkspur and Brentwood in Northern California, and San Marcos and Sherman Oaks in Southern California

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate anyone, email We pick the winners on Monday nights.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Softball Player of the Week

Savannah Whatley (Heritage, Brentwood) Sr.

East Contra Costa County and just northeast of the foothills of majestic Mt. Diablo is where we land for our Northern California softball honoree.

To say Whatley was hot to start the season is an understatement. In fact, and despite only playing two games, she was blistering, and picked up right where she left off last season when she was All State Underclass First Team Infield, but more on that later.

The Patriots played two games with the last one coming just before the plug was pulled on playing for the near future. Savannah started the week by going 3-for-3 with a home run, three RBI and a run scored in a 12-0 victory over San Leandro. Then, on Friday, she as 2-for-4 with another home run, a double, an RBI and two runs scored in 6-3 win on the road at Vacaville.

Add it all up and its comes out to a .714 batting average with two home runs, a double, four RBI and three runs scored.

Hopefully, the Utah-bound second-sacker whose big bat helped propel Heritage into this week’s new State Top 25 rankings will get a chance to add to her two-game career as a Patriot.

We say a two-game Heritage career because last year when Whatley was named All State, and before her mother decided to relocate to Brentwood, Savannah was a member of the Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) squad, and was a big contributor to the Monarchs all season including their run from the No. 8 seed to capturing the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division championship.

Whatley led Mitty with a .544 batting average, 43 hits and eight doubles, tied for tops on the team with 26 RBI, plus she had a home run and two triples.

Prior to last year at Mitty, Whatley was at Berean Christian for her freshman and sophomore seasons and she hit .478 and .657, respectively.

“That’s really cool,” said Patriots head coach Ron Rivers when told his new star was being honored.

“Savannah has been a great addition to our team,” continued Rivers. “She has become a great teammate and role model for the things we are trying to accomplish. The girls have welcomed her with open arms and are glad she has become a Patriot.”

With her season in jeopardy, Whatley showed a little frustration with a March 14 Twitter post: “5 for 7 with two dingers on the books already!! This year was supposed to be the best yet.”

Nick Welch is shown on signing day for baseball when he inked his name on a letter of intent with UC Santa Barbara. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Nick Welch (Redwood, Larkspur) Sr.

We head to the Redwood Empire portion of the CIF North Coast Section for this honor where we find a senior right-hander who has made some noise on the mound and in the batter’s box as well.

Last week, Redwood only was able to get in one game before things came to a halt but in it Welch turned in another fine performance both as a pitcher and a batter in a 9-0 league-opening victory over Terra Linda of San Rafael that leaves the Giants at 4-2 overall and 1-0 in the Marin County Athletic League.

All the 6-foot-2, 190-pound right-hander did was fire a two-hitter with nine strikeouts in five innings of work. At the plate, Nick had a quick bat and went 3-for-4 with an RBI that drove in the only run he needed in the victory.

According to Redwood head coach Mike Firenzi, his ace throws around 87-90 miles per hour and can top out at 92 to go with his curve and changeup.

“Nick has the ability to compete at a very high level and he’s very non-emotional on the mound,” Firenzi remarked.

So far this season, the UC Santa Barbara-committed Welch, who reportedly is also being looked at by MLB scouts, is 2-1 with a 0.00 ERA, plus 22 strikeouts and only five hits and two walks in 14 innings pitched. In the game he lost, the Giants gave up two unearned runs in a 2-1 loss to Petaluma where he only gave up one hit and struck out six in five innings of work. At the plate, Welch stands at 7-for-18 for a .389 batting average.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Luca Martinez (San Marcos) Sr.

We head to the North County portion of the CIF San Diego Section for the second straight week only this week our honoree is the Southern California baseball winner whereas last week it was for softball.

The Knights got in the first two games of the North County Tournament and Martinez, who will play next at Washington State, had the big bat in some very big victories.

San Marcos opened with a 16-12 victory over Classical Academy of Escondido and Martinez went 3-for-5 with a home run, triple, four RBI and three runs scored. His and the rest of the Knights’ bats were even more sizzling, after Martinez went 4-for-5 with two home runs, two walks, six RBI and five runs scored in a 31-7 mercy-shortened victory over neighboring Vista.

So far this season for a 7-1 San Marcos team that is on the bubble of the state rankings, Martinez is hitting .577 with four home runs, two doubles, a triple, 13 RBI and 19 runs scored with eight bases on balls and only two strikeouts. His on-base average is .694 and his slugging percentage and OPS are off the charts at 1.192 and 1.886, respectively.

Of reported numbers, the four home runs and 19 runs scored are tied for tops in the state, the runs scored leads the CIF San Diego Section, and the home runs are tied for the section’s top mark.

There were so many other Knights’ players that had big bats last week and we can’t mention them all, but we’re sure Luca would like to mention at least one teammate, so Noah Lazuka gets the shout-out after going 5-for-7 with three doubles, three walks, seven RBI and five runs scored in the two games combined.

Ella Parker is in the middle as part of a team photo when Notre Dame captured the High Desert tourney title. Photo: @NDSO_Athletics /

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Ella Parker
(Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks) Fr.

We visit the San Fernando Valley for our Southern California softball award winner and there we find a freshman pitcher and slugger who despite her youth is the leader of a Knights’ team that is 12-1 and on the bubble of the just released state rankings.

There’s another twist to the story. They say it’s in the blood and Parker certainly has the genealogy as she’s the niece of Los Angeles Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts (who we actually also covered in the late 1980s as a baseball player and great option QB in football).

Last week, in a 1-0 victory on the road at St. Bonaventure of Ventura, Parker had a hit and a walk but the hit was a home run that provided the game’s only tally, and in the circle Ella pitched a couple of innings and didn’t give up a hit while striking out four batters.

The Saturday before last, Parker showed why she is one of the state’s top freshmen and one of the top recruits from the class of 2023 in the nation.

In a match-up with a nearby Chatsworth team that is a traditional Los Angeles City Section power, Ella was more than swell after pitching a four-hitter with 10 strikeouts in 5-4 victory in the championship game of the High Desert Classic. At the plate she had an RBI single and a base on balls.

So far this season, Parker is 6-1 from the circle with a 1.22 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched. Batters are hitting a paltry .116 against Ella.

With bat in hand, Parker is hitting .605 with three home runs, six triples, two doubles, 26 RBI (which is the same number of hits she has), and 16 runs scored. She has a 1.139 slugging percentage and an OPS of 1.813. The 26 RBI is the No. 2 reported mark in the state and leads the CIF Southern Section.

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

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