SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s honorees are Natalia Hill from Gahr of Cerritos and Mason Brassfield of Bakersfield Christian. Photos:

With the CIF Southern Section now into the semifinals and finals this week for baseball and softball, it narrows the funnel by a lot, but even so we have two SoCal honorees who put up some very impressive numbers. In Northern California, where playoffs are just starting, we have two award winners that are near the top of their reported statistical categories in their respective sections and in one case the entire state. This week our stops are in Rancho Mirage and Cerritos in Southern California, and in Northern California we visit Bakersfield and Chico.

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

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Natalia Hill (Gahr, Cerritos) Sr.

The search for the Southern California Softball Player of the Week takes us around 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles close to where I-605 and Highway 91 intersect, and it’s in Cerritos where we find this week’s award winner at Gahr High.

Stats for all 28 games for the 18-10 Gladiators have not been posted but for the 19 games that are Natalia is at or near the top of the heap of just about every hitting stats for Gahr.

Although the stats for last Saturday’s CIF Southern Section Division 2 semifinal match-up with Mater Dei of Santa Ana have not yet been posted, our search found that Hill took Gahr to the mountain, the team has survived the journey and now have earned a spot in the D2 title game this weekend at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine facing California of Whittier.

In the 7-2 victory over Mater Dei, the Nebraska-committed senior centerfielder hit a double to tie the score at 2-2, and then blasted a late inning two-run home run that pretty much sealed the deal.

In the 19 games reported and heading into the showdown with California, Hill is hitting for a .556 batting average and with the round tripper versus Mater Dei we know she has at least five home runs.

Malakai Lopez of Rancho Mirage tossed a CIFSS playoff one-hitter last week with 15 strikeouts. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Malakai Lopez (Rancho Mirage) Sr.

To find the Southern California Baseball Player of the Week we head east on the I-10 out past the Inland Empire, and when we get to Highway 111 instead of turning off we continue on the Interstate toward the Coachella Valley. We stop a stone’s throw off the freeway and near the gravesites of famous singers Frank Sinatra and Sonny Bono at Rancho Mirage High.

Lopez has been tearing it up as a pitcher and a hitter all season but his biggest performances have come in the CIF Southern Section Division 6 playoffs and the icing on the cake so far came last week in two wins for Rancho Mirage. Now, after being named the Palm Springs TV KESQ News Student Athlete of the Week in March, he gets a statewide honor to go with it.

Malakai didn’t start on the mound in the Rattlers’ second round match-up with host St. Bonaventure of Ventura last Tuesday, but when it’s an elimination situation head coach David Shaw turned to his ace for a relief role.

With the score tied 2-2 after six innings, Lopez came on from his shortstop position to pitch in the bottom of the seventh with one out and retired the side. Then, after Rancho Mirage pushed across two runs in the top of the eighth he retired the side once again to get the win and the Rattlers advanced to the semifinals. He did give up two hits but he fanned four in the outing. Lopez also had an RBI single and scored a run in that game.

The relief outing was obviously clutch but not really enough to garner player of the week honors, but after what he did on Friday in the quarterfinals, and once again on the road, this time near downtown Los Angeles at Salesian, he solidified this week’s honors.

All Malakai did was toss a one-hitter with 15 strikeouts and two walks, and he singled in the only run he needed in a 3-0 shutout victory. Lopez also scored a run as well.

So far this season for the 24-7 Rattlers, and heading into a Tuesday semifinal match-up at home versus Colony of Ontario, Lopez stood at 8-2 with a 0.49 ERA and 73 strikeouts and a measly six walks with no extra base hits in 57.2 innings pitched. At the plate he is second on the team with a .383 batting average, is tied for second with 20 RBI and is second with 29 runs scored and 15 stolen bases.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Mason Brassfield (Bakersfield Christian) Sr.

We head to “The Valley” as the locals like to call the CIF Central Section and when we visit schools in the Central Section we like to remind readers that for all players of the week features in all sports, girls and boys, the Central Section is considered part of Northern California.

Brassfield has been fanning a lot of batters all season on the mound, and he’s had a hot bat as well, and his most recent outing on the mound is a perfect example and earns him statewide honors as the Northern California Baseball Player of the Week to go with local kudos he’s had so far.

Last week, in a 9-2 victory in the first game of a home and away South Yosemite Valley League series with crosstown Independence, Mason got it done on the mound and also in the batter’s box.

As a pitcher he did give up six hits but he struck out 14 batters with no bases on balls. At the plate had a triple, a walk and scored twice.

Two days later in an 8-1 victory at Independence that got the Eagles to 22-5 overall an 12-0 in league, Mason went 2-for-3 with a double, and RBI and a run scored.

So far this season, and heading into a Central Section Division II first round match-up for the No. 2 seed with No. 15 San Luis Obispo, he is 9-2 with a 0.80 ERA and 132 strikeouts and only 16 walks in 61.1 innings pitched. Mason is also batting .365 with seven doubles, 16 RBI and 18 runs scored.

Brassfield’s strikeout ratio is over two per inning and the 132 batters he’s fanned is the No. 2 reported mark in the Central Section and No. 3 in the state.

Alissa Snipes from Pleasant Valley of Chico is shown in her travel ball colors. Photo: Pleasant Valley HS /

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Softball Player of the Week

Alissa Snipes (Pleasant Valley, Chico) Jr.

We don’t head to CIF Northern Section very often but that’s where we landed in the search for the Northern California Softball Player of the Week and we find ourselves in Chico at Pleasant Valley high to honor Snipes.

Alissa has been a top producer for Pleasant Valley all season at the plate as well as in the circle, and last week she ended the regular season with a bang – literally.

In a 16-3 Eastern Athletic League victory over crosstown arch rival Chico that got the Vikings to 21-4 overall and 10-0 in league, Snipes blasted three home runs, drove in six base runners, and scored four times herself.

Heading into the Northern Section Division II playoffs, Alissa is hitting .644 with 10 home runs, 42 RBI and 43 runs scored.

She didn’t pitch against Chico, but the junior who is a utility player when not pitching, has gone 9-0 with a 1.59 ERA plus 90 strikeouts in 48.1 innings pitched.

Of note, Snipes’ 10 home runs is tied for the top mark in the Northern Section, her 42 RBI is the No. 2 mark in the section and the 43 runs scored is the No. 3 mark in the section.

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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