NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s first NorCal/SoCal players of the week for 2021 baseball & softball are pitcher/hitter Anthony Packard of Colfax (left) and pitcher Ryann Orange of Torrance. Photos: Nick Pecoraro / &

With the pandemic comes some new twists and although not everyone is in action yet one of them is for the first time in the 40-plus year history we’ve been covering high school sports in California we’re doing baseball and softball Players of the Week at the same time as football, and guess what?…basketball is right around the corner. For our first set of honorees for baseball and softball we go to Sacramento and just northeast of the state capitol in the north, and Mission Viejo and Torrance in the south.

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate anyone, email We are picking the winners on Tuesday nights until spring football games are over.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Anthony Packard
(Colfax) Sr.

For our inaugural Northern California baseball award winner, we head to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains at around 2,500 feet and east of Sacramento on Interstate 80 just short of halfway to Reno. There we find a pitcher and slugger the locals have been hoping to see play more than a handful of games.

So far this season, Colfax is 2-0 to start, both shutouts, and Packard has packed a punch both on the mound and in the batter’s box.

Last week, in an 8-0 blanking of Forest Lake Christian of nearby Auburn, Packard pitched four innings and struck out 10 of the 15 batters he faced. At the plate, he was 3-for-4 with a home run, a double, a walk, a stolen base, three RBI and three runs scored.

Proving you can’t possibly be, and don’t have to be a star every game, Packard showed he can just be a teammate and contributor like he did this week in a 3-0 win over Sacramento Rosemont. Anthony didn’t have a hit but he got on base a couple of times, stole a base, scored a run, and handled all three chances playing shortstop.

Last season, Colfax only got in eight games and went 5-3 with Packard going 2-0 on the mound with only one earned run and 10 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Softball Player of the Week

Jazzy Fines
(Sheldon, Sacramento) Jr.

Huskies’ head coach Mary Jo Truesdale just keeps turning out stars and standout players that have produced 646 career coaching wins coming into this season in the Sacramento area since 1992 and another 113 wins in Michigan before she came west.

Her latest shining star could be one of the brightest ever, and if the way Fines has started this season for the 4-0 and Northern California’s No. 7 overall Huskies, she brings back memories of her big sister Maci Fines, currently a senior at UC Santa Barbara. Another sister, Jordan, also was a all-state player.

Having only gotten in two games in her sophomore year, it’s unlikely Jazzy will challenge Maci and her spot in the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book for her 201 career hits, but nonetheless little sis has been sparkling so far.

Last week, in a 15-0 rout of Lincoln, it was just like a routine day at the office. Jazzy was 3-for-4 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored.

This week, in a 21-0 shelling of Rio Linda, Fines was 3-for-4 with a double, RBI and three runs scored. She had two home runs two weeks ago in a 10-0 win over Del Oro of Loomis, and on the season Jazzy is hitting .733 with two home runs, a triple, two doubles, six RBI, 11 runs scored, no strikeouts, and 1.000 fielding percentage.

We know Fines would want to give a shout out to her teammates, particularly fellow junior Reina Zermeno. The Huskies’ catcher has been just as hot as Fines and is hitting .600 with two home runs, a triple, double, nine RBI and 10 runs scored.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Ryann Orange
(Torrance) Jr.

We head to the area known as the South Bay for our Southern California softball honoree. There we find a junior pitcher and slugger that could not have had a better start, and picked up right where she left off after being named All Daily Breeze for the 8-3 Tartars last season, and All CIF Southern Section as a freshman two years ago.

Her name may be Orange but last Friday Ryann had the Long Beach Millikan players seeing red after she tossed a no-hitter and struck out 13 to lead Torrance to a season-opening 5-0 victory.

Then, on Saturday, she continued to dominate from the circle. Orange only pitched two innings of an 18-0 mercy-shortened win over Nogales of La Puente but struck out all six batters she faced. Ryann also accounted for some offense with a home run.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Matt Dobson
(Capistrano Valley, Mission Viejo) Sr.

Baseball started just in time for our Southern California Baseball Player of the Week.

Matt Dobson’s clutch home run came in Capistrano Valley’s first game of the season. The Cougars won their second game Tuesday over Aliso Niguel. Photo: @CVHS_Baseball /

We often talk about young people overcoming adversity and persevering through tragedy, and the story of Dobson could not be a more compelling one when it comes to dealing with the obstacles of life.

On March 20, in a season opening 4-3 victory over visiting Villa Park, Dobson was a hero. With his team having given up two runs in the top of the eighth inning and trailing 3-1, Matt came to bat.

The fact he was 0-for-3 when he stepped to the plate could be excused since Dobson was playing with a heavy heart. The fact he was even out there on the field, and how things turned out, is a tribute and testament to the healing power of sports. Two days prior to the game Matt had to attend the funeral of his mother, Mary, who died from an aneurism.

With two of his teammates on base, we really don’t have to tell you what happened because there wouldn’t be a story if Dobson didn’t do what he did. The Cougars third baseman didn’t waste any time after he blasted the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for a three-run walk-off home run.

According to Capistrano Valley head coach Adam Sorgi in an Orange County Register article, tears rolled down Dobson’s face as he rounded the bases, and he was swarmed by leaping teammates when he reached home plate.

His father Terry was there to support him and Sorgi told the Register he’s convinced Mary was there to support him as well.

His teammates retrieved the ball after the game and gave it to Dobson who can look at it as he fondly remembers the moment and his mother for the rest of his life.

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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