As a consequence of the 2020 high school baseball and softball seasons being canceled after not even one-third of scheduled games were played in the state, we cannot produce all-state teams in those sports for 2020. We do not want to forget about those seniors from the Class of 2020, however, who were going to complete outstanding prep careers in those sports. So instead of all-state nominations or actual all-state honors, we’re going to present a series of senior salutes for these athletes through the month of June. Go inside to see which ones we are saluting today and find out how you can submit a senior salute of your own.
For Senior Salutes No. 1, CLICK HERE.
(Matt Bardowell, Connor Charpiot, Manuel Chavez, Connor Falsken, Tyler Imbach, Mateo Medina, Eddie Park, Declan Van Vuren, Mia Barrozo, Ava Hand, Keahilele Mattson, Marissa Montelongo, Zoe Nolte, Kaylee Pond, Kylee Potes, Madison Simon)
NOTE: We can’t obviously write up every senior softball or baseball player from throughout California, so here are the qualifications. They’re basically similar to someone being chosen as an all-state nominee. Generally will look for those who were in third year of varsity in 2020 with at least one all-league selection or some major accomplishments from last season. Must also have information easily available via MaxPreps, Twitter page or similar method. We hope not to have to look up most of our Senior Salutes on our own (like all of them in this first group). To send in a Senior Salute with information similar to what you see below and let the entire state know how proud you are of a particular player, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This will be a series of free posts on CalHiSports.com and it’s no charge from us to post one sent in by someone else. It’s the least we can do to highlight these seniors who’ve lost so many experiences this spring. We will alternate between baseball and softball players being listed first. For those with seniors moving on to college with no other sons or daughters still coming up, we wish you the best. For those who do have upcoming siblings, please consider getting a Gold Club membership to our site to help us continue all of the work we do on behalf of California high schools in five sports (football, boys bb, girls bb, baseball & softball). For more on special offer to get signed up for $3.99 for one month, CLICK HERE.
SENIOR SALUTES (SOFTBALL)
Shelby Buchanan (Garces, Bakersfield)
The senior standout for Garces Memorial was off to a hot start with a shot at becoming a four-time Bakersfield Californian All-Area selection. Buchanan was batting .435 (10 for 23) with three home runs and 12 RBI in just seven games. Eight of her 12 hits went for extra bases. In the previous three years on varsity, the first two at Centennial of Bakersfield, Buchanan was named second-team All-Area her junior year, first-team her sophomore year and honorable mention as a freshman. Shelby ends her high school career with 14 home runs and 71 RBI while batting .376 (83 for 221). She will play at Central Arizona College next season.
Alyssa Chin (El Cerrito)
Speedy leadoff hitter who plays infield and outfield has been a four-year varsity member of the Gauchos’ team. She is the school’s reported all-time leader for batting average, on base percentage, hits and stolen bases. Alyssa will be playing next year at Azusa Pacific University. She was already batting .550 with 10 steals and 13 runs scored in six games this season. As a junior, Chin hit .597 with 30 stolen bases.
Aly Kaneshiro (Hart, Newhall)
It’s well known in Southern California prep softball circles that the Foothill League is one of the best so when Kaneshiro had 48 RBI in her freshman season for the Indians that was especially insane. She went on to bat .439, .451 and .479 in her next three seasons and had started out as a senior with a .514 mark through 11 games. What’s more, Aly got the attention of major colleges and combined with her academic prowess was recruited and signed last fall with Stanford. She is the only player from California in Stanford’s incoming softball class of five. Kaneshiro also ends her career at Hart with 132 hits and a .462 career batting average. She was a three-year all-leaguer and likely would have made that four-for-four.
Bella Pahulu (Tracy)
We saw Bella’s house decorated by her mother this week in a Stockton Record article about families’ doing different things to honor graduating seniors. There’s a lot to commemorate for what she did for the Bulldogs in her career. Headed to UC Davis and ranked among the top five percent academically in her class, the highlight for Pahulu was helping Tracy win the 2018 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 title. The third baseman batted .339 for that season and upped that to .352 for last year. Bella also was tied for the Tri-City Athletic League lead last year in home runs. She wasn’t up to .300 yet as a senior, but one of those games she had to face perhaps the best pitcher in the nation (Pleasanton Foothill’s Nicole May).
Cheyanne Sandoval (Coachella Valley, Thermal)
The last two games for Cheyanne’s career for the Arabs definitely is the way one would want to end something. In her next to last game, which was the second game of a doubleheader, she went 2-for-2 with a homer and four RBI in a 10-0 win vs. Pahrump Valley of Nevada. Then in what turned out to be her final game, Cheyanne went 3-for-3 with two homers and four RBI as Coachella Valley beat Faith Lutheran of Las Vegas 18-5. She batted .541 in 11 games with seven homers and 23 RBI. Sandoval’s junior season saw her rip it for a .616 average with 10 homers and 42 RBI. For her four-year career, Cheyanne was able to finish above .500 as a batter at .518. Her 29 homers looks like will make the state record list and she also had 128 RBI and 35 doubles. Sandoval didn’t pitch and probably will be playing first base in college.
Sarah Shevenell (Liberty, Madera Ranchos)
A rare three-sport athlete, Sarah was looking to close out her career in softball after completing it for the Hawks in volleyball and soccer. The team was 9-2 at the time of the shutdown and looking to go far in the CIF Central Section D3 playoffs. They went 24-7 and reached the semifinals last season Shevenell was the co-player of the year in the North Sequoia League. She struck out 207 batters as a pitcher in 151 innings and had a 22-6 record plus 1.07 ERA. In nine reported games for this year, Shevenell was showing a 1.01 ERA and 7-1 record with 43 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings. At the plate, she was 8-for-16 with 13 RBI plus two doubles and one homer.
SENIOR SALUTES (BASEBALL)
Brett Edwards (Santa Monica)
When you think of Santa Monica pitchers, obviously the late, great Tyler Skaggs of the Los Angeles Angels comes to mind first. Edwards also is a pitcher and was out to a great start for the Vikings. He’s 6-foot-5 and has the frame to really develop into an elite pitcher later in the life. Still, for now he had a 0.28 ERA in 25 innings as a senior with 36 Ks. Brett had a two-hitter with seven strikeouts in a five-inning 12-0 win vs. North Hollywood, he had a one-hitter with 13 strikeouts in a 3-0 victory against Port of Los Angeles and he had a one-hitter with six Ks in five innings of an 8-0 win vs. Windward of Los Angeles.
Joseph Ingrassia (Valhalla, El Cajon)
Here’s a player who is part of a state record and it’s a state record that is ongoing into next season. The state record in question is for teams winning extra inning games in a row. Valhalla and Ingrassia pushed that total to 11 games last year, one of them in a CIF San Diego Section D3 playoff game. The Norsemen went on to win that section title and had 3-2 win in eight innings this season against Scripps Ranch of San Diego. That puts the streak at 12 and still going (pandemic or not). Ingrassia made history of his own as a junior when he became the first Grossmont Conference pitcher to throw a second career no-hitter in 35 years when he posted one against Mount Miguel of Spring Valley. For the season, Ingrassia went 8-3 as a junior with a 0.85 ERA plus 116 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings. So far this season, the future UC Santa Barbara Gaucho had a one-hitter with 14 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings of that 3-2 extra-inning game and he is listed with a no-hitter despite giving up three runs and walking six in a 5-3 win vs. Cathedral Catholic. As a batter this year, Joseph also was hitting .455.
Kevin Parada (Loyola, Los Angeles)
A great example of a player being honed by great competition not just in high school (Loyola is in the SoCal monstrous Mission League) but with club teams, Parada could be about to get picked in this year’s MLB Draft. Loyola was only 3-7 this year, but was 0-3 vs. powerhouse Harvard-Westlake and Parada was batting .467 with two homers and 10 RBI. He’s described as a catcher with a lot of athleticism and a lively bat. Last season, Kevin swung for a .447 clip and had four homers, 28 RBI and 11 doubles. Coming into the season, Parada was named as a Rawlings Perfect Game Preseason All-American. He also recently was placed at No. 7 in a top 10 player ranking in the state for draft purposes by the Prep Baseball Report network.
Cameron Saso (McKinleyville)
Believe or not, but Cameron only got to play one day as a senior for the Tigers. And in that one day, McKinleyville swept a double-header against Willits and in that double-header Saso went 2-for-3 with three RBI in one game and in the other game he pitched a perfect game with 10 strikeouts. Last year, in helping the Tigers go 22-4 and get to the CIF North Coast Section D4 title game (they lost to league rival Arcata), Saso was the team leader in runs scored with 29 and was its second-leading hitter (.400 average). On the mound, he went 8-0 with a 1.17 ERA and had 75 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings.
Jeffrey Taylor (The King’s Academy, Sunnyvale)
He was the leading returnee for a team that came into 2020 with two straight CIF Central Coast Section D3 titles. Taylor was first team All-Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division as a junior and was runner-up for the league’s pitcher of the year honor. He also plays third base and was a key performer for last year’s CCS title squad, which helped head coach Greg Mugg land Cal-Hi Sports State Small Schools Coach of the Year honors. According to Jeffrey’s profile on the NCSA (Next College Student Athlete) web site, his story almost never happened. “The summer before my freshman year in high school, I was seriously injured in a boating accident while inner tubing on the Sacramento Delta,” Taylor wrote. “The injuries were life-threatening and I was airlifted to Oakland Children’s Hospital where I spent three weeks recovering from a broken femur and four surgeries on each of my knees. I will never forget how elated I was when I rolled out of the hospital in a wheelchair.” If he had made it onto this year’s all-state small schools team, Taylor also might have gotten a special honor for coming back from adversity. “I struggled through recovery, with the bad days offsetting the good ones, yet I was determined to play sports at a high level again,” he wrote. “My competitive drive carried me through.”
Ruben Valencia (Winters)
There was a typo next to Ruben’s name on last season’s All-State Small Schools first team since he was listed as a senior. But while Winters standouts such as Daniel Carrion and Gary Molina did graduate, Valencia was back. He was looking at leading the Warriors to their sixth straight CIF Northern Section title. They won their fifth straight last year, finished 24-4 and were No. 1 in the final D4 state rankings. Valencia homered, scored three times and drove in four runs in a 11-1 win over Colusa in the section final. For the season, the four-year varsity player as a junior also batted .552 with a team-best 44 RBI. He also had four homers and 11 doubles. Valencia, who also was a three-year varsity member of the school’s basketball team, batted .380 as a sophomore when Winters and long-time head coach Jeff Ingles went 30-1 and were No. 1 in the state in their division as well.
Mark Tennis is the editor and publisher of Cal-Hi Sports. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports