NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Go Bears. Two of this week’s honorees are Rowan Kelly from Menlo-Atherton of Atherton and Miranda De Nava of Riverside Poly. Photos: &

There is one entry for the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record book from among this week’s winners and making it even more of a “feel good” story is that the player’s school in Covina is closing in a few weeks. The other stops this week are in Atherton and Rancho Cordova in Northern California, and Riverside in Southern California.

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Notes: 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

Rowan Kelly (Menlo-Atherton, Atherton) Jr.

The search for our Northern California Baseball Player of the Week takes us to what’s known as “The Peninsula” portion of the CIF Central Coast Section just south of the midway point between San Francisco and San Jose and just east of the El Camino Real in Atherton.

At Menlo-Atherton we find a UC Santa Barbara junior recruit who recently did some real damage with his bat to help the Bears get to 13-5 and 7-0 in the Peninsula Athletic League – Bay Division.

His biggest game came in a 12-2 victory last Thursday over visiting Carlmont (Belmont) when the Bears’ outfielder went 3-for-4 and slugged two home runs, drove in seven runs and scored twice.

Earlier in the week in the two-game series with Carlmont in Belmont, Kelly hit a home run in the top of the sixth inning that knotted things at 1-1, and then, in the top of the 12th, Rowan was part of a five-run rally when he singled and scored in what turned out to be a 6-1 Menlo-Atherton win.

For the two games, Kelly was 5-for-10 with three home runs, a walk, eight RBI and four runs scored. Not a bad week’s work.

Kelly also is used to late-game heroics. In a game earlier this season against St. Francis of Mountain View, Rowan hit a grand slam homer in the bottom of the seventh inning that tied the score in a game the Lancers eventually won, 9-8.

Cassy Siefert winds up for a pitch during game for Cordova (Rancho Cordova) earlier this season. Photo: Rick Sloan / Rancho Cordova Independent.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Softball Player of the Week

Cassaundra Siefert
(Cordova, Rancho Cordova) Sr.

The greater Sacramento metro area is our destination in search of the Northern California Softball Player of the Week, and we land around 15 miles east of the state capitol not far from the banks of the American River in Rancho Cordova.

At Cordova High we find a pitcher who had a part in holding up this week’s Top 25 softball rankings, and because of it our honoree gets to use this past Monday’s game as part of the performances that earned Siefert the award.

The Monday game involved the Lancers hosting 13-1 Vista del Lago of Folsom in a non-league match-up. Had Vista del Lago won the game, the Eagles were ticketed to break into the rankings.

It’s pretty obvious what happened after Siefert took the circle and Cassaundra proceeded to put the kibosh on Vista del Lago. She pitched a one-hitter with two walks and nine strikeouts in 2-0 shutout Cordova victory.

In her previous start and the final game on last week’s schedule, Siefert also had a five-inning one-hitter with a walk and seven strikeouts in an 8-0 shutout of Escalon.

So far this season for the 9-4 Lancers and heading into a Thursday game with West Campus of Sacramento, Siefert is 7-2 with a 2.95 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 54.2 innings pitched. With bat in hand Cassaundra is hitting a team-leading .520.

Siefert has signed a D1 scholarship offer from Longwood University in Virginia.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Miranda De Nava (Poly, Riverside) Jr.

The Inland Empire and the city of Riverside is where we land, and it’s at a school whose most famous athletes are legendary basketball superstars Cheryl and Reggie Miller.

We’re not visiting Riverside Poly to honor a basketball player but a softball pitcher who has had a lot to do with Poly having a 21-1-1 record and checking in this week at No. 12 in the just released state rankings.

De Nava has been good enough all season to have been honored previously, but in actuality it was her performance on Monday of this week that clinched this week’s award.

Two starts from her worst outing of the season when Poly was defeated for the first time in a 10-7 loss to Hemet, Miranda came through in amazing form with a 1-0 victory over Valley View of Moreno Valley where she tossed a one-hitter with two bases on balls and a whopping 13 strikeouts.

After the Hemet loss, De Nava warmed up for Valley View by rebounding from the setback to Hemet by finishing last week with a three-hit shutout with a lone walk and 12 strikeouts in a 3-0 win over Temescal Canyon of Lake Elsinore.

We had more than one nominee for the SoCal softball award this week, and in a bit of a twist one of the players nominated was senior pitcher and slugger Janessa Santos of Valley View.

In fact, had bubble team Valley View won, Santos would likely have been the honoree. Besides all the hitting and pitching Santos did last week, she only gave up the one earned run on three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts.

Santos will get some props in the Stat Stars feature this week and perhaps she can be picked later, but the queen of the Inland Empire for softball this week is De Nava.

Miranda is now 19-1 with a 1.71 ERA and 205 strikeouts and only 32 walks in 135 innings pitched. The 205 strikeouts is the top reported mark in the CIF Southern Section and No. 2 in the state.

Ernesto Duenas provided a great moment during the final month of competitive baseball for his school before it is closing. Photo: Gladstone baseball.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Ernesto Duenas (Gladstone, Covina) Sr.

We referenced a “feel good” story in the intro and to find it we head to the San Gabriel Valley to find it and where we land is at Gladstone in Covina to honor this week’s Southern California Baseball Player of the Week.

Sadly, Gladstone will be closing at the end of this school year, and in fact the last regular season baseball game that will be played at the school just off Azusa Avenue will be this Thursday when the Gladiators take on Nogales of La Puente in their Montview League finale.

For Duenas, and all the Gladstone faithful, the game that will be remembered most is when the senior left-handed pitcher earned his statewide honor by giving everyone a real keepstone when he pitched a no-hitter with 18 strikeouts in a 9-0 victory over Sierra Vista of Baldwin Park.

According to Fred Robledo of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Ernesto was at his best in what was one of the greatest pitching performances in school history. The Cal-Hi Sports state records also back that up. An 18-strikeout no-hitter is the second most strikeouts in a no-hitter in CIF Southern Section history. The record of 20 was set in 1960 by Bob Flynn of El Segundo. There are no others from the CIFSS in our records with 18 or more and Duenas will be added to the all-time list.

The victory got Gladstone to 9-8 overall and 6-1 in league. The Gladiators, who only have 10 active players, still have a shot at winning the league but will be in tough this week against league leader Nogales in an away game before the home finale on Thursday.

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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