SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

We don’t know if you can see SoCal Player of the Week Daniel Flores in this photo of Birmingham’s L.A. City Section title team, but we know that the Patriots may not have gotten to the game if he hadn’t thrown a no-hitter in the semifinals. At right is NorCal Player of Week Ella Myers of Monterey. Photos: CIF L.A. City Section & Mark Tennis.

The baseball and softball seasons still have a week remaining as we move into the third year of the CIF Southern Regional playoffs and the second year of the Northern Regional playoffs, but this will be the last edition of the Player of the Week features for the 2022-2023 school year. There’s still a lot more to come with postseason awards in both sports and end of the year athlete/school honors as well. For this final week, we visit Lake Balboa and Holtville in Southern California and Bakersfield and Monterey in Northern California.

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Notes: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate anyone, email Next week will be the final group of players featured for the 2022-23 school year.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Daniel Flores (Birmingham, Lake Balboa) Sr.

We head to the San Fernando Valley to honor our final Southern California Baseball Player of the Week winner and we land in Lake Balboa and at Birmingham High to find our award winner.

Flores has pitched well all season for Birmingham, but his last start will be etched in his and the Patriots’ faithful’s memory forever after the senior right-handed pitcher tossed a no-hitter in a CIF Los Angeles City Section Open Division 5-1 semifinal victory over Palisades of Pacific Palisades last Wednesday at Dedeaux Field on the campus of USC.

The way Flores started out it looked like pitching a no-no was the farthest thing from what actually happened.

Flores plunked the first batter he faced and walked the second batter on four pitches. According to the story by Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times, Lake Balboa head coach Matt Mowry sent someone to the bullpen and was ready to yank Flores.

“I did not want to go out. I did everything I could to stay in,” he told Sondheimer.

Seeing he might get pulled, Flores got busy, and in a hurry. First, he picked off the runner at second and then got the inning’s final two outs on a grounder and an outfield fly.

Although he did walk four more batters, from there Daniel settled down and completed the no-hitter on 106 pitches to send Birmingham into the championship game on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

We know Flores would want to give a shoot-out to his Cal-bound senior teammate Kaden Taque. He was the pitcher sent to the bullpen and got the start on Saturday and pitched Birmingham to its eighth L.A. City Section title in a 3-1 victory over Carson.

On a final note. The win was a 14th straight victory for Birmingham and an emotional one for Mowry, who lost his wife Amy to cancer last September and considered not coaching this season.

Now, after winning his fifth LA City Section title, Mowry will lead his Patriots into the CIF Southern Regional Division II playoffs where Birmingham snagged the No. 3 seed and opens at home on Tuesday against Calabasas.

Kalli Strahm led Holtville to CIF San Diego Section D2 title with her pitching and hitting. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Kalli Strahm (Holtville) Sr.

To find our Southern California Softball Player of the Week, we head to the far reaches of the CIF San Diego Section and land at the farthest southeastern high school in the state in Holtville.

It’s there that we find a senior pitcher and run-producing hitter who got it done this season for the Vikings after tasting disappointment in her last game as a junior.

Strahm was the losing pitcher last year when Holtville was the No. 1 seed in the San Diego Section Division III title game, but this year was a horse of a different color.

Last Friday, in the San Diego Section championship game, and after being moved up to Division II where the Vikings were the No. 3 seed, Holtville turned the tables with Strahm back in the circle. The Vikings were the winners as they defeated top-seeded Santana (Santee) in a 7-1 victory at the softball field at San Diego State.

Strahm didn’t have blistering numbers in the circle, but she got outs and only gave up four hits with five strikeouts to run her record to 20-5 on the season.

Strahm is also one of the leading hitters on the Vikings’ team and against Santana she went 2-for-3 with two RBI to increase that number to a team-leading 27 on the season.

It was a second San Diego Section title in three years for Holtville and Strahm. The Vikings won the 2021 Division IV title and as a sophomore Strahm came on to pitch two scoreless innings in relief.

Strahm and her Holtville teammates now move on the CIF Southern Regional Division IV playoffs where they earned a No. 3 seed and open at home on Tuesday against unbeaten Pomona Ganesha.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Softball Player of the Week

Ella Myers (Monterey) Soph.

In bonus coverage for us heading to the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division final at West Valley College between Hollister and St. Francis of Mountain View we were able to witness an exciting seventh inning of the game beforehand. There was Ella Myers pitching for Monterey against Salinas High in the CCS D2 final.

Myers, one of the state’s top freshmen last season when she led the Toreadors to the CIF NorCal D4 title, had only allowed one hit but Salinas had a runner in scoring position in a game it trailed 2-1. A line drive that just missed being caught tied the score, but Ella then struck out the next batter to prevent anything else from happening.

We have to admit thinking extra innings in the game might create a huge problem in our quest to see both the CCS softball and baseball finals in the same trip. But in the bottom of the seventh inning with a runner on Ella came through by smashing a majestic home run down the left field line that was fair by a few feet. Monterey had captured a 4-2 win and the CCS D2 title.

Myers finished with a two-hitter and 13 strikeouts as a pitcher. The two-run homer was her only hit of the game, but it was her ninth of the season. She also pitched a no-hitter and went 1-for-3 with one RBI in the semifinals as Monterey blanked Leigh of San Jose, 10-0. For the season, she heads into this week’s NorCal D2 playoffs also with a .413 average and 23 RBI. As a pitcher, she’s 13-3 with a 1.75 ERA plus 162 strikeouts in 119 2/3 innings.

In leading Monterey to that D4 NorCal title last year, Ella mashed 12 homers with 40 RBI plus a .422 average. She’s clearly on track to move up quite high on the all-time state list for career homers.

The graphic was created after Luke Mann and team at Bakersfield Christian won the CIF Central Section D2 title. Photo: @BchsBaseball2 /

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Luke Mann (Bakersfield Christian) Jr.

We head to the far southern reaches of what we consider Northern California for our weekly features on players for all sports, boys and girls, and it’s at Bakersfield Christian that we find our final Northern California Baseball Player of the Week for this school year.

Last Friday, in the CIF Central Section Division II championship game at minor league Valley Strong Stadium in Visalia, Mann was the man, just like he’s been all season for the Eagles after going 3-for-4 and scoring twice in an 8-3 victory by top-seeded Bakersfield Christian over No. 3 seed Cabrillo of Lompoc.

So far this season for the 25-7 Eagles, and heading into a CIF Southern Regional Division II opening round game for the No. 2 seed against Long Beach Poly, Mann leads Bakersfield Christian in hitting with a .442 batting average, hits with 42 and doubles with 11, plus he’s tied for the team lead with 11 stolen bases, and he has 20 RBI and 23 runs scored.

It was the second Central Section championship in three years for Bakersfield Christian after the Eagles won the 2021 Division IV title.

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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