NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s NorCal/SoCal honorees are Michael Barnett from College Park of Pleasant Hill and Emmie Walker of Coalinga. Photos: Barnett family &

This week’s stops for softball are both in The Valley. In Northern California it’s in the Central Section town of Coalinga, and in Southern California we head to the San Fernando Valley and Lake Balboa. For the baseball honorees, we hit Pleasant Hill in Contra Costa County of Northern California and El Cajon in Southern California.

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Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate anyone, email

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Michael Barnett (College Park, Pleasant Hill) Sr.

We head to the Diablo Valley city of Pleasant Hill and within gazing distance of majestic Mt. Diablo in search of our Northern California Baseball Player of the Week.

At College Park, we find a senior right-handed pitcher who is one of the best not just in the region but in the state. Last week, in a 5-0 victory over previously state-ranked Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa, Barnett blanked the Cardinals on a one-hitter with nine strikeouts.

It was the third-straight solid outing on the mound for Michael, who they call Mikey, all in complete games. The first one was a seven-inning 6-0 shutout of Campolindo of Moraga where Barnett tossed a six-hitter with 10 strikeouts. His next start was in a 6-1 victory on a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts at Walnut Creek Northgate, but the run was unearned. That’s a streak of 21 straight innings of not giving up an earned run.

On the season, the UCLA-committed Barnett started this week 8-4 with a 1.19 ERA and 80 strikeouts and only 14 bases on balls in 59 innings pitched.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Jacob Embleton (Granite Hills, El Cajon) Jr.

The East County portion of the CIF San Diego Section and the city of El Cajon is our destination in search of the Southern California Baseball Player of the Week.

At Granite Hills, we find a junior outfielder whose hot hitting has played a role in the Eagles current No. 16 spot in the state rankings.

In three big wins last week, all the Eagles were flying high at the plate but the bat of Embleton did the most damage. Jacob started the week by going 3-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored in a 16-1 rout of crosstown Grossmont. Steele Canyon of neighboring Spring Valley was next and in a 14-3 victory Embleton was 3-for-4 with a double, two RBI and three runs scored. Jacob capped the week with two hits, including a double, and he scored twice in a 10-3 win over Helix of nearby La Mesa.

On the season, Embleton was hitting .326 with two home runs, eight doubles, 19 RBI, and a team-leading 30 runs scored.

We said Granite Hills has some hot bats, and in fact the .326 season average of Embleton might lead a lot of teams, but on the Eagles he’s only sixth among the full-time players. The leader is deserving of a shout out and that’s senior Grant MacArthur with a .483 average. This was just the right week to shine the light on Embleton.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Softball Player of the Week

Emmie Walker (Coalinga) Soph.

For our Northern California Softball Player of the Week we head to “The Valley” as the locals like to call the CIF Central Section. We land in Coalinga, just west of I-5 and where Highways 198 and 33 intersect in the center of town.

Our honoree is a slugger/speedster who was nominated in the release of his weekly milestones by Bob Barnett, the Central Section historian and longtime friend and contributor to Cal-Hi Sports.

About the only thing the fleet-footed Walker didn’t do last week was walk. She started the week by going 3-for-3 with three doubles, three RBI, three runs scored and six stolen bases in a 12-1 victory over nearby Avenal. Emmie followed that up by going 2-for-4 with a home run, two RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base in a 7-0 victory against visiting Caruthers. Walker ended the week by going 4-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI, two runs scored and four stolen bases in a 14-1 victory at Mendota.

On the season Emmie began this week hitting .636 with the one home run, three triples, 17 doubles, 23 RBI and 39 runs scored. She also had 60 stolen bases, which according to Barnett’s nomination is No. 2 all time in the Central Section. The nomination also points out that along the way last week Walker reached the 100 career hits milestone.

The 60 steals is not only the top reported mark in the Central Section but the entire state as well. Her .636 average ranked No. 6 in The Valley and the 39 runs scored was the No. 7 mark in the Central Section.

By the time your eyes peruse this feature Walker will have had a chance to add to her numbers in a Tuesday afternoon game with visiting Firebaugh.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Nina Johnson (Birmingham, Lake Balboa) Fr.

The Los Angeles neighborhood of Lake Balboa in the San Fernando Valley is where we find our Southern California Softball Player of the Week.

The Birmingham Patriots girls have several big bats, but the biggest one of all belongs to its first-base girl Johnson, a freshman to watch and one of the top young players in the Los Angeles City Section.

Last week, Nina closed out the regular season in style. She started the week by going 2-for-3 with two walks, an RBI, and three runs scored in a 14-0 rout of Taft of nearby Woodland Hills. Next was Cleveland of neighboring Reseda. In a 5-1 victory, Johnson had a hit and a walk.

Nina finished the week by smoking two doubles, she walked, drove in a run, and scored twice in a 16-0 blowout of Canoga Park that got Birmingham to 16-8 overall and completed a 7-3 finish in the West Valley League heading into the Patriots’ CIF L.A. City Section playoff opener on Wednesday against visiting Carson.

On the season, Johnson was leading the team with a .453 batting average. She also had three home runs, a triple, eight doubles, 13 RBI and 21 runs scored.

We said the Patriots had more hot bats than Johnson and we know Nina would like to give a shout out to her two sophomore teammates, Jessica Rose and Rachel Lowry. They hit .437 and .429, respectively, for the regular season.

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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