NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of our NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week for baseball & softball are Blake Griffin from Citrus Valley of Redlands and Brooke Riggins from Mt. Whitney of Visalia. Photos: @CVBHawkBaseball & Courtesy Cidnee Frakes.

Week five of our Baseball and Softball Players of the Week feature has us visiting the Mother Lode town of Shingle Springs, plus Visalia in Northern California, and then it’s on to Oxnard of Ventura County and finally to the Inland Empire city of Redlands for our Southern California award winners. Go inside to see which one of our four blasted four homers in one game to tie the state record.

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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
Softball Player of the Week

Brooke Riggins
(Mt. Whitney, Visalia) Sr.

The journey in search of our Northern California Softball player of the Week had a lot of twists and turns before we landed around halfway between Fresno and Bakersfield in the Central Valley city that has grown to nearly 150,000 residents.

The first twist is we remind readers that for all our Player of the Week features for all sports, girls and boys, the CIF Central Section, or “The Valley” as locals call it, is considered part of Northern California. Second, one of the primary purposes of these features is to track potential records for the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book, and in this case our Northern California honoree has been producing some massive and record performances on a team that is currently under .500.

Talking about records. We’ll never know if Brooke would have broken the record for most home runs in a game, but in a bizarre 22-22 tie with San Joaquin Memorial of Fresno, Riggins tied the record by blasting four round-trippers to make the Most Home Runs (Game) list along with five other girls. Another twist is it’s the first time in 20 years it’s been done since the last take a girl went deep four times was by junior Ashley Miller of Taft in a 2001 18-0 victory over Bakersfield Golden Valley.

According to reports from the Mt. Whitney game scorer who Tweeted us the information, Blake broke a 21-21 tie with a solo home run in the top of the seventh, but the Fresno girls tied it in the bottom of the inning. It was at that point the coaches agreed to call it a tie.

At that point Riggins also had hit a two-run home run and two additional solo long taters, had the four homers and two walks in six plate appearances, five RBI and six runs scored.

One has to wonder had he known Brooke could have broken the state record with one more round-tripper, would head coach Carl Bivens agreed to a tie?

We have to be fair and say about the only thing she hasn’t done to make opponents think things are rigged when they face Riggins, is when she’s in the circle. The bulk of the runs were scored off other pitchers in the 22-22 tie but in 5.2 innings of work, Brooke gave up eight runs (three earned) on seven hits and five walks with seven strikeouts.

We don’t have stats from the Mt. Whitney loss on Tuesday of this week to Exeter that now has the Pioneers 2-3-1 this season, but after the tie last week Riggins is hitting .625 with five home runs, a triple, two doubles, nine RBI, and 14 runs scored in five games.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Tyler Stewart
(Ponderosa, Shingle Springs) Sr.

For our Northern California Baseball Player of the Week we head 40 miles east of downtown Sacramento on Highway 50 and land in the Mother Lode foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to a town where the crisp smell of pine trees always seem to permeate the air.

It’s in Shingle Springs where we find a Sacramento State-bound senior right-handed pitcher and infielder who has been extremely productive for a medium size school and 10-2 Bruins team whose only losses have been close ones, and to larger schools from Elk Grove with solid records.

As is often the case with our weekly award winners, the recognition comes from a player’s overall body of work, and while Stewart only pitched one game last week, and it wasn’t his best outing of the season, his overall pitching that has him 4-0 this season has been as crisp as the pine-smelling mountain air.

Last week, in an 11-2 victory over Roseville Oakmont, Stewart gave up his one and only earned run of the season but still threw a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts. Tyler also had a hit, a walk and scored a run in three at-bats.

In his other three appearances this season Stewart tossed a 1-htter with 11 strikeouts in four innings of a 6-0 shutout of El Dorado of nearby Placerville, a 3-hitter with five strikeouts in a 3-1 victory over Fair Oaks Del Campo, and he helped the Bruins avenge one of their losses in a 6-2 victory over Elk Grove Pleasant Grove after he threw a complete game 2-hitter with nine strikeouts.

Besides the 4-0 mark, Stewart has a 0.33 ERA with 35 strikeouts, and he’s only allowed nine hits and eight walks in 21 innings pitched.

At the plate, Tyler is hitting a respectable .333 with three doubles, a triple, three RBI and nine runs scored in 36 at-bats. He has two stolen bases and his fielding as a pitcher and second-baseman is solid as Stewart has only made one error with 15 putouts in 16 total chances.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Alexa Martinez
(Rio Mesa, Oxnard) Sr.

Ventura County is where we land in our search for the Southern California Softball Player of the Week and in Oxnard we find a doozy in the Spartans’ co-captain and Lehigh-committed third-sacker.

Last week, in a 10-3 victory over neighboring Ventura, Alexa was electric at the plate. She was 3 for 5 with two home runs, a triple, five RBI and three runs scored. The following day Martinez had a part in victimizing Ventura once again after going 2 for 2 and getting plunked twice with a double, three RBI and a run scored.

She didn’t have a hit this Tuesday in a 5-4 win over Oak Park that got Rio Mesa to 7-1 on the season, but playing the hot corner at third she threw out both batters that hit the ball her way.

So far this season and even with the 0 for 3 on Tuesday, Martinez was hitting .440 with seven home runs, a triple, two doubles, 20 RBI and 11 runs scored.

The seven home runs was tied for the No. 4 reported mark in the state and tied for No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section. The 20 RBI was tied for fifth in the Southern Section and was top 25 in the state.

Defensively, Martinez had 20 total chances with 13 assists, six putouts and only one error after eight games.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Blake Griffin
(Citrus Valley, Redlands) Sr.

For our Southern California Baseball Player of the Week we venture out the Interstate-10 to the Inland Empire just east of San Bernardino to a school and a geographical area known as the Citrus Valley.

It’s there we find a senior with the namesake of an NBA star, only this Blake Griffin isn’t a hoopster on the hardwood but a pitcher and slugger on the diamond who is having a great season for the 10-2 Blackhawks. They also entered a game this week with a 3-0 record in the Citrus Valley League.

Last week, in a 11-1 victory over crosstown league rival Redlands, the 6-foot, 185-pound senior right-handed pitcher who plays shortstop when he’s not on the mound, fired a 4-hitter with six fanned and a couple of walks in 6-innings of work. Griffin also stroked a double that drove in two, a RBI sacrifice fly and a base on balls with bat in hand.

Griffin hasn’t been totally dominating on the mound in every time he’s been handed the ball, but against some solid competition he’s gotten the job done and was 3-0 in five appearances with a 2.26 ERA and 39 strikeouts with seven walks in 31 innings pitched.

Blake has been solid at the plate as well where he’s hitting .320 with two triples, two doubles, nine RBI and eight runs scored in 25 at-bats.

Concordia University should be glad to him as Griffin has signed to play to play for Concordia beginning in the fall.

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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