It is increasingly looking like the 2020 spring season for high school sports in the state is finished due to school closures amid the Coronavirus pandemic. But we did take some time in the last two days to go through all of our various sources for a look at baseball/softball players who had turned in significant individual outings during those first 10 to 12 days of March. Who would have been the Mr. Baseball and Ms. Softball frontrunners? For the seniors, we’ll do even more attempts to recognize those who’ve had outstanding high school careers in baseball & softball once it becomes official that those careers are indeed complete.
FOR LAST WEEK’S NORCAL & SOCAL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK, CLICK HERE.
(Not included below)
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Contributing: Bob Barnett (CIF Central Section).
(For games played through Friday, March 13 but most schools in the state had been shut down for sports one to two days earlier)
Michael Flores (Corona)
Three-year senior standout for the Panthers led his team past Roosevelt of Eastvale 5-0 in its Big VIII League opener by pitching a four-hitter and striking out 10. With bat in hand, the future Long Beach State player added two hits, including an RBI double in the first inning for a 1-0 lead.
Lucas Gordon (Notre Dame, Sherman Oaks)
The State Freshman of the Year from 2017 was phenomenal in his last start on the mound for the Golden Knights early last week. Gordon retired the first 19 batters he faced and ended with a two-hitter in a 13-0 victory over Chaminade of West Hills. He also had 11 strikeouts. He’d been one of the teams leading hitters as well.
Ben Grable (Flintridge Prep, La Canada)
A frequent stat star from last season, Grable had a two-hitter over five innings and nine strikeouts plus he went 2-for-4 with a homer in a 11-1 romp past Rio Hondo Prep of Arcadia. For his first nine games, Ben was hitting .500 with three homers and 12 RBI. In a recent 10-0 win vs. Providence of Burbank, he had two doubles, a homer and three RBI.
Gavin Grahovac (Villa Park)
Just a freshman, Grahovac hit two deep balls that went back-back-back and gone during a 3-0 win by the Spartans against El Modena of Orange. According to OC Varsity, Grahovac is a shortstop and catcher.
Malcolm Moore (McClatchy, Sacramento)
This sophomore catcher with interest from major colleges would have been an all-state freshman last year if we did such a team but even so was on our list of possible all-state underclass candidates. Moore cracked a pair of homers in his most recent game as the Lions drilled Christian Brothers of Sacramento 10-2. Moore also had four early-season homers to tie for the early state lead and had a .429 batting average.
Max Rajcic (Lutheran, Orange)
He might be described as a Mr. Baseball Player of Year frontrunner for the early part of the season, except that we probably won’t be able to do that selection for the first time ever with not much of the season completed. In a 2-0 win over Mater Dei of Santa Ana in the days before the shutdown, Rajcic tossed a two-hitter with 11 strikeouts and he drove in one of the two runs. In the same week, Rajcic also had a homer and two RBI in a 6-5 victory over the Monarchs. He was 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA at the time the season was halted.
Justin Rios (Arcadia)
Playing Burbank High in a couple of games about 10 days to two weeks ago showed what Justin can do. In a 9-0 win vs. the Bulldogs, he pitched a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts. Then in a different game, one that Arcadia won 11-0, Rios went 5-for-5 at the plate with six RBI and two doubles.
Nicolas Salcido (St. Anthony, Long Beach)
The junior outfielder had a huge day for the Saints when they topped Bishop Montgomery of Torrance 15-3 in early March. His stat line looked like this: 5-for-5 with five runs and five RBI. He also had two home runs. In an earlier game than that, Salcido went 3-for-3 with a homer vs. Valley Christian of Cerritos. He also had four homers in his first six games.
Zach Todd (Manteca)
In the first nine games of the season for the Buffaloes, Todd was hitting .684. Just a sophomore and at 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, the hunch is that we’ll be hearing a lot more about him down the road. In a 18-4 win over Ceres, Todd went 3-for-3 with a double, triple and four RBI. He also went 2-for-2 with two runs in a different win against Ceres.
Ian Torpey (Pioneer, San Jose)
Torpey was throwing torpedos for the Mustangs when they blanked Homestead of Cupertino 3-0 in a recent contest. In seven innings, Homestead was held to no hits and had 13 of its batters go down on strikes. Torpey also only walked two in his no-hitter.
Juan Vega (Legacy, South Gate)
Just before the shutdown, Vega helped his team vanquish Santee of Santana, 10-0, by throwing a no-hitter with 14 strikeouts in six innings and he also had three hits, including a triple. It was Juan’s second no-hitter of the early season. His first one was for seven innings and also with 14 strikeouts in a 9-0 win vs. Mendez of Huntington Park. In that first no-hitter, Vega also cracked a pair of doubles.
Jake Vogel (Huntington Beach)
Like Rajcic, Vogel is headed to UCLA and also like his future teammate he was out to a great start. In a 16-4 victory by the Oilers Vogel hit for the cycle in the Oilers’ 16-4 nonleague win over Laguna Beach. The senior center fielder has signed with UCLA.
Angelina Allen (Woodcrest Christian, Riverside)
We have a sense that there was some inputting errors for Allen’s early-season stats, but here they are: 15-for-15 in her first four games with seven doubles, a triple and two homers. In a game played March 10, Angelina went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI in a 13-3 victory vs. Western Christian. In her first nine games, Allen also was reported with 15 doubles.
Natalia Baldenegro (Laton)
Freshman from the CIF Central Section had big day at the plate two weeks ago as she had five hits, hit two doubles & had seven RBI in a 24-2 win over Orosi. Teammate Laylin Lopez also had a big day against Orosi with three hits, four runs scored and six RBI.
(Central Valley, Shasta Lake)
She’s been in line to be one of the top pitchers ever from the CIF Northern Section and had begun the season with dominance. In two games her team won on March 13, Breedlove pitched no-hit ball for nine innings in wins against Hamilton (Hamilton City) and Paradise and struck out 25 batters. Earlier in the season, she had a no-hitter in a regulation seven-inning win (2-0) over Etna with 15 Ks.
Emily Cardenas (La Jolla)
Another freshman already making a name for herself is Cardenas in the San Diego Section. In the last game she played on March 9, Emily hammered a pair of homers and went 2-for-2 with three runs and four RBI as the Vikings beat Morse of San Diego 9-8. Earlier in the season, Cardenas went 3-for-3 with a double, homer and four RBI in a 21-0 triumph over Lincoln of San Diego. In that game, she also pitched a five-inning no-hitter with 10 Ks.
Jessica Hubbard (Grand Terrace)
Her team had gotten out to a 4-0 start before the school closures hit and she the primary reason. The Cal State Northridge recruit pitched in two wins, giving up just five hits with zero runs plus she had 21 strikeouts. In her first 13-plus innings, Hubbard had a 0.00 ERA with 28 strikeouts.
Nicole May (Foothill, Pleasanton)
One of the state’s two top Ms. Softball Player of the Year candidates to start the season, Nicole had a two-hitter in one of Foothill’s early wins of the season, which was 2-0 vs. Tracy. A lot of her stats would have come to light later because Foothill is a team that doesn’t regularly use MaxPreps, but with the team only having four games shows how it would be next to impossible to choose a Ms. Softball honoree if that’s all she has. And it wouldn’t be fair to her to pick someone else who perhaps did get to play 10 or 12 or more games.
Jazmine Perezchica (Palm Desert)
One of our SoCal Players of the Week from last season, Jazmine was hitting at a robust .659 in her first 12 games this season with six doubles, five triples and one homer. On March 9, she went 4-for-5 with a double and two RBI in a 10-0 win against Palm Springs. She’s the daughter of former MLB player and current Arizona Diamondbacks third base coach Tony Perezchica.
Cheyenne Sandoval (Coachella Valley, Thermal)
In a 10-0 victory vs. Pahrump Valley of Nevada on March 6, Sandoval went 2-for-2 with a homer and four RBI. Then the next day when the Arabs obliterated Faith Lutheran of Las Vegas, Cheyenne slammed a pair of homers as part of a 3-for-3 outing with four RBI. She was tied for the reported state lead with seven homers and also had 23 RBI in her first 13 games.
Mia Santos (Vanden, Fairfield)
One of the reasons for the Vikings getting out to a 5-0 start was the play of Santos, a sophomore outfielder to watch. In the Tuesday and Thursday of that last week she played (March 10 and March 12), she went 4-for-4 with three RBI vs. Fairfield and 3-for-4 with 2 RBI vs. Wood of Vacaville. She had gone 16-for-19 in those first five games.
Kailani Tatro (Pinole Valley, Pinole)
We are not usually able to report on every no-hitter and perfect game in California softball, but we’ll have to try to track them all down for the early season this year if there are no more coming in. Tatro, a freshman, had a perfect game in the previous week with 12 strikeouts in five innings in leading the Spartans past Vallejo 12-0.
Cami Tiewater (Tehachapi)
According to CIF Central Section historian Bob Barnett, Tiewater tied a section record by hitting four doubles and was perfect at the plate in a 18-10 win against Burroughs of Ridgecrest. Tiewater finished 5-for-5 with seven RBI and scored four times in the triumph.
Sarah Willis (Norco)
The state’s other top Ms. Softball Player of the Year candidate to start the season was leading the 11-1 Cougars in home runs (two) and RBI (10) and was among the top hitters (.421). She did take a pitching loss to Mater Dei (a team Norco beat earlier in the season), but we’ll probably never know if she would have gotten hot in the CIFSS D1 playoffs as both a pitcher and hitter like she did last season.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports