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. 3, CLICK HERE.
(Luke Avidor, Treven Crowley, Danny Garcia, Preston Howey, Austin Machado, Landon Wallace, Rylie Atherton, Avery Croxall, Talia Hannappel, Lafu Malepeai, Vianney Perez, Briana Velazquez)
For Senior Salutes No. 2, CLICK HERE.
(Shelby Buchanan, Alyssa Chin, Aly Kaneshiro, Bella Pahulu, Cheyanne Sandoval, Sarah Shevenell, Brett Edwards, Joseph Ingrassia, Kevin Parada, Cameron Saso, Jeffrey Taylor, Ruben Valencia)
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 the 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 email@example.com.
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)
Rylie Barber (Dougherty Valley, San Ramon)
The standout catcher was out to a hot start for the Wildcats her senior season with a .462 batting average (6 for 13) with three doubles and five RBI in just four games played. Behind the plate, Rylie was equally effective having thrown out two runners on five stolen base attempts. As a junior, Barber was Dougherty Valley’s MVP with 112 innings caught, a .407 average (1.019 OPS) and led the team in multi-base hits. Rylie played basketball during her freshman and sophomore years for the Wildcats, but concentrated on softball after that. The four-year varsity starter will play next at the University of Redlands.
Jeweliana “Jewels” Perez (Merced)
From the same school as UCLA’s Madilyn “Bubba” Nickles comes another standout with a great nickname. Perez was all-league for the Bears going back each season since she was a freshman and likely would have gone 4-fo-4. She also was all-league for academics all three previous seasons and was named to the Merced Sun-Star all-area team twice. Jewels, who will attend San Diego State on a full scholarship, finished her career with a .488 batting average (including .605 as a sophomore. She also posted career totals of 54 RBI, 30 doubles, 12 triples and seven homers.
Kiannah Pierce (Sheldon, Sacramento)
Longtime Sheldon head coach Mary Jo Truesdale calls this four-year starter for the Huskies “one of the best hitters to come out of Sheldon.” Pierce started in both the infield and outfield and was preparing to start a full season at shortstop as a senior (matching what she did as a junior). Truesdale also said: “She was a captain her junior and senior year. Next year, Kiwi will be attending the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill on a softball scholarship and majoring in Biology.” Some of Kiannah’s career stats included a .508 batting average, .560 on-base, 153 hits and 104 runs scored.
Grace Pieson (Patriot, Riverside)
After an 0-3 start, Grace was really starting to rack up the wins and strikeouts for her team before the season shutdown. She was the reported state leader in strikeouts with 132 according to MaxPreps. Sure, she got to pitch 12 games, but among those outings were two no-hitters (one with 16 Ks vs. Temescal Canyon and one with 13 Ks vs. Norte Vista of Riverside) and a two-hitter with 9 Ks in a 3-2 win vs. Valley View of Moreno Valley. Pieson’s season totals showed her at 8-4 with a 2.52 ERA. The 132 Ks came in 66 2/3 innings. As a junior, Grace went 13-6 in the circle with a 3.90 ERA ad 181 strikeouts. She does have trouble giving up walks, though, so that accounts for the higher ERA than you’d normally see with that many strikeouts. Up next for Pieson will be going to Yavapai College.
Alessandra Samperio (Mary Star, San Pedro)
She has had a stellar four-year journey for the Stars, and it started off on February 28, 2017… hurling a no-hitter striking out all 16 batters she faced in a five-inning win. Only a passed ball on her 15th strikeout, which would have ended the game, prevented a perfect game, but Samperio quickly refocused and struck out the final batter on three pitches. Samperio’s sophomore season of 2018 was no doubt her best, leading the Stars to their first of two straight Camino Real League titles. They defeated high-powered St. Anthony of Long Beach all three times they faced, hitting a home run in the third meeting to seal the season sweep. On May 29, 2018, Samperio pitched her greatest outing yet in upsetting then-undefeated top-seeded Riverside Christian (then Carnegie Schools) 5-2, hurling a five-hitter with 13 strikeouts in the CIF Southern Section playoffs. Alessandra had an equally strong junior season in leading the Stars hitting wise with four home runs, and the Stars went undefeated in league for the first time since 2013. This season, Samperio was 5-2 with a 0.85 ERA & 65 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched. Samperio has signed on to play at Loyola Marymount University, finishing with lifetime stats of 55-23 with a 1.39 ERA & 744 strikeouts in 473 innings pitched and lifetime hitting stats of a .410 batting average, 86 hits, 7 home runs and 65 RBIs. Samperio is a two-time Cal-Hi Sports All-State selection & 2018 All-CIF Southern Section Division 6 selection. (Thanks to Jamaal Street for this writeup.)
Jaya Travis (Bishop’s, La Jolla)
A member of the highly regarded OC Batbusters travel program, Travis has been pounding the ball with regularity for the Knights over the past four years. Just before the season was shuttered, Jaya had one of those days to remember in a 20-10 victory over Tri-City Christian of Vista. She collected two homers, drove in eight runs and went 5-for-5. In her three games to start the season, she had gone 9-for-11 for an .818 average. The senior catcher batted .689 as a junior with 12 doubles ad 23 RBI. As a sophomore, Travis hit for a .545 mark with four homers, eight doubles and 24 RBI. Her freshman RBI total was even higher at 29 and she also hit .456.
SENIOR SALUTES (BASEBALL)
Noah Beal (Clovis)
The first season at Clovis with Chris Patrick as head coach (taking over for his retiring dad James Patrick) was going to feature Noah in a starring role. Beal was coming off of a 2019 season in which he earned first team All-TRAC honors, team MVP and of course was part of the Cougars’ CIF Central Section Division I championship squad. Later in the summer, Noah played in the annual North/South All-Star Series where he was on the winning team and was MVP. The first baseman and right-handed pitcher has signed to play at UNLV for next season, but Coach Patrick adds “we’ll see what happens in the abbreviated draft.”
(El Camino Real, Woodland Hills)
One of the traditions at El Camino Real is for moms to be able to throw out a first pitch at senior day. Adam’s mom, Heidi, wasn’t able to do that this year so he dressed up in uniform last week and his mother threw a pitch to him on a TikTok video, which was then seen by others at the school. Christopher has been a four-year varsity starting pitcher for the Conquistadors. He was all-league as a sophomore and junior and was all-L.A. City Section last season. Adam will play next at Loyola Marymount. “For my senior brothers, it was one hell of a ride,” he said in a Twitter post. “I am so thankful to have been around such a gritty, hard-nosed bunch of guys. I will always have my brothers’ backs, no matter what.”
Jacob Kilbane (Livermore)
In the Cowboys’ first six games, they won five of them and Jacob had a hand in four of those wins. He opened the season pitching two innings of a combined no-hitter vs. Mt. Eden of Hayward that was reported as the first no-hitter for Livermore in 25-plus years. Kilbane next got the save in a win against Newark Memorial, then got a win with two innings pitched (one hit allowed) as the Cowboys topped Mountain House. Jacob was the winning pitcher as well with four innings of work in a triumph over Pioneer of San Jose. When the season was halted, Kilbane was 3-0 with one save and a 1.40 ERA. The shutdown of the season was especially hard to take at Livermore since the school’s alumni association and several volunteer dads had spent many hours and resources adding new bleachers and making other improvements to the baseball team’s home diamond.
Nicholas Perez (West Ranch, Valencia)
As a two-year All-Foothill League returnee behind the plate for the Wildcats, Perez was settling into his role as a leader for a team that went 24-6 last year but had some rebuilding to do in 2020. In a 9-2 victory in early March over Saugus, Perez ripped a two-run triple and finished 3-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored. Nick’s stats from 2019 showed him hitting .310 with three homers and 24 RBI and as a sophomore starting in one of the toughest leagues in Southern California he batted .341 with three homers and 16 RBI.
Antonio Rojas (San Mateo)
This senior catcher and three-year varsity player batted .360 as a junior with a .422 on base average for a team that ended 12-15. Rojas had his best moments early on as he went 7-for-9 in the first three games. He later enjoyed a 3-for-4 day in a loss vs. Menlo-Atherton. Antonio was looking to heat up as a senior after a slower start, but he had only played five games.
Kieran Sidebotham (Corona del Mar, Newport Beach)
A key member of Sea Kings’ teams that reached the CIF Southern Section D2 playoffs the past two seasons, Sidebotham was playing shortstop this season and is going on to play and attend Claremont McKenna. The 6-foot, 180-pounder had started 2020 hitting .429 with three doubles, two homers, 10 RBI and a .528 OBP. In his three previous seasons at CDM, Kieran posted batting averages of .400, .377 and .282. He was Sunset Wave League all-league as a junior and already as a senior appeared on the All-CIFSS D1 senior team as selected by the SoCal Baseball Coaches Association.