SoCal / NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s next-to-last SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week for the 2020-21 school year are Ashlyn Flinchem from St. Bonaventure of Ventura & Will Heron from Rio Americano of Sacramento. Photos: St. Bonaventure HS & Rio Americano HS.

This will be the next-to-last installment of this series for the 2020-21 school year. We just couldn’t resist one chance to rave about one of the best baseball pitchers in the nation and a top small-school softball player from the south. In the north, we have the leader of a team that finished 24-2 plus a catcher from a valley town synonymous with one of the greatest athletes of all time.

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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 Monday nights for the rest of the spring season.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Ashlyn Flinchem
(St. Bonaventure, Ventura) Sr.

After our SoCal baseball honoree, we now double back north around 140 miles to the Mission City of Ventura, home not only to Mission San Buenaventura but also our Southern California Softball Player of the Week.

The bottom line is so far this season is when she’s in the circle Flinchem has had opposing batters flinching.

On Tuesday, in a 9-0 shutout by the CIF Southern Section Division 6 top-seeded Seraphs on the road at Lancaster, Ashlyn got the win and did it by tossing a 2-hitter with 19 strikeouts. Ashlyn even lit up the Lancaster pitcher with a 3-run home run of her own.

Last week, Flinchem was actually even more dominant. In fact, Ashlyn had two 5-inning perfect games, facing 15 batters in each. She struck out 14 in a 10-0 victory over Montebello Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary, and she fanned 12 in a 14-0 shellacking of Sacred Heart of Jesus of Los Angeles

Heading into a semifinal matchup with Alhambra on Thursday for 18-6 St. Bonaventure, the La Sierra University-signed Flinchem was 12-5 with a 1.90 ERA and 195 strikeouts with 29 walks in 103 innings pitched. The 195 strikeouts in the No. 12 reported mark in the state.

At the plate, Ashlyn was hitting a respectable .312 with three home runs, a triple, seven doubles, 20 RBI and 15 runs scored.

Gage Jump is a left-handed pitcher for No. 1 JSerra who can be impossible for any high school hitter to handle. Photo: @JSerraLionsBB /

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Gage Jump
(JSerra, San Juan Capistrano) Sr.

We normally don’t choose a player like Jump for this honor, because, well, he’s someone well-known around the nation as one of the top prep pitchers and we usually like to highlight someone who might need a bump of publicity. We just couldn’t resist.

Playing in a city made famous not only by Mission San Juan Capistrano itself, but also by the celebration on March 19 that marks the miracle of the annual return of swallows, Jump is making opposing batters swallow hard when they have to come up to face him.

With the season winding down, and playoffs underway in this topsy-turvy season that already should have concluded, we’re looking at what a player does right up until we announce our weekly winners, and in fact that was the case with Jump.

On Tuesday, in a 4-0 win over Capistrano Valley of neighboring Mission Viejo, the UCLA-signed Jump, a 6-foot, 180-pound left-handed senior that is projected as a potential high round MLB Draft pick, faced the minimum 18 batters over six innings until a pitch count and cramping issues took him out of the game. Tristan LaMaison pitched the seventh and completed the no-hitter. Two walks separated Gage from being perfect through six but both runners were retired on the base paths. He also struck out 12 batters.

Two weeks ago in his previous outing prior to Capistrano Valley, Jump struck out 13 in a 2-0 shutout of Orange Lutheran that got the Lions a win away from the Trinity League title that they won the next day with a 3-1 win over Orange Lutheran.

Now the CIF Southern Section Division 1 top-seeded Lions are into the quarterfinals on Friday when they host Yucaipa.

On a special note, the performance by Jump earned JSerra head coach Brett Kay win No. 300 in his long coaching career.

Marissa Gonzalez will soon make the trek from Kingsburg to Columbia, S.C., where she will start classes at the University of South Carolina. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Softball Player of the Week

Marissa Gonzalez
(Kingsburg) Sr.

For our Northern California Softball Player of the Week choice, we head to “The Valley,” as locals affectionately call the CIF Central Section, and we remind readers that for all of our Player of the Week features for all sports, the Central Section is considered Northern California.

Our destination is Kingsburg, an historic town around 20 miles south of Fresno that was settled in the early 1870s by Swedish natives and to this day the community still has traces of the old architecture that is visible even as you drive by on the freeway.

Kingsburg is also famous as the birthplace of one of the greatest athletes in history, Olympic decathlon Gold Medal winner Rafer Johnson.

That was then and this is now, and now the people of Kingsburg have a heroine in Gonzalez who smacks around a yellow ball, and the South Carolina-bound Vikings’ catcher has been doing it with authority.

At this stage of the season with the Central Section having playoffs, we also are looking at games this week and last and a player’s overall body of work as the season draws to a close.

Last week, in a 8-0 victory over Exeter, Marissa hit home run No. 7 this season, had two RBI and scored three times. Then, on Tuesday, in an 11-1 victory over Bakersfield Stockdale that gets the Central Section Division I No. 6 seed into the second round of the playoffs, Gonzalez smashed two doubles in her three hits, she drove in three runs and scored twice.

So far this season for the 18-8 Vikings and heading into a showdown at third-seeded Buchanan of Clovis on Thursday, Gonzalez is hitting .488 on 39 hits with the seven round-trippers, nine doubles, 29 RBI and 33 runs scored. Her home runs, RBI and runs scored are all currently top 10 reported marks in the Central Section.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Will Heron
(Rio Americano, Sacramento) Sr.

For our Northern California Baseball Player of the Week selection, we head about 8-miles due east of the state capitol building in downtown Sacramento to a school situated close to the banks of the American River.

At Rio Americano, we find a senior captain and first baseman who helped put the icing on an outstanding 24-2 season for the Raiders (not including a forfeit win) to end the season last Saturday. It also capped a Capital Athletic League 14-1 record and league championship.

Last week in three games played, Will gave Raiders fans a thrill. It started in a non-league match-up with Valley Christian of Roseville. Heron had a double that drove in two, he walked and scored twice in a 12-6 victory.

The very next day, Heron was hotter than Fahrenheit in a rout of Sacramento. He had three doubles that drove in two, and he scored four times against the Dragons.

Two days later in another blowout of Sacramento, Heron’s bat was silenced, but at this point of the season, where the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section is not having playoffs, not only did we include Will’s final game this past Monday, but we looked at his overall body of work in deciding to honor him.

In a season-ending 12-2 victory over cross-town El Camino, Will gave the home crowd one final thrill. Had Will saved one of those doubles from last week Herron would have hit for the cycle. Regardless, he was 3-for-3 with a home run, triple, three RBI and two runs scored. Not a bad way to end a four-year varsity career.

For this season, Heron hit .475 on 38 hits with 11 home runs, two triples, 11 doubles, 40 RBI and 28 runs scored. The 11 round trippers are tied for the fourth reported mark in the state, plus the RBI total and a 1.075 slugging percentage are both top 20 in the state.

Heron has always been a good hitter, but this year he turned up the juice with power hitting. In three varsity seasons and including a junior campaign with only five games, Will finishes his high school career with a .437 average, 13 home runs, 18 doubles, 68 RBI and 53 runs scored in 56 games played.

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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