Corona: Baseball State Team of Year

Corona players are shown after their win in the title game of the National High School Invitational tourney. They are the first team from California to win in that tourney and later in the CIF Southern Section D1 playoffs. Photo: @USABEvents /

We’re not going to wait around too long to go ahead and get out the inevitable after the CIF Southern Section Division I title was decided last Saturday and that’s to name Corona as the 2024 State Team of the Year. The Panthers are the first team from the Inland Empire to finish No. 1 in the state since 1999 and may one day stake their claim as one of the top teams ever from the state, depending of course how all of their top-ranked players do in the coming years.


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This year’s baseball team at Corona High was expected to be one of the top teams in the nation for the 2024 season, but in all the years of following California high schools that doesn’t always equate to actually completing a great season with major championships. The competition is just too tough and in most CIF sections it only takes one loss in one playoff game to end a season.

It was mission accomplished for the Panthers in last Saturday’s CIF Southern Section D1 championship played at The Diamond in Lake Elsinore. They blanked state No. 2 Harvard-Westlake of Studio City, 5-0, to win their first major division title in that section. Corona’s two previous CIFSS titles were not in the top division of the state’s biggest CIF section by far.

From a historical standpoint, head coach Andy Wise’s team already has done something no other team from California has ever done and that’s win both the CIFSS D1 championship to go along with winning the National High School Invitational title held since 2012 in Cary, N.C. There have been eight other teams from Southern California that have won that national event (Florida teams have won twice) but none of those eight later went on to win the CIFSS D1 title.

“Heck, yeah, we immediately discussed it,” said Wise when asked if the team knew about winning those double titles. “Right after the dogpile in North Carolina, we had the kids in the outfield, and the message was that this is great, this is unreal to be NHSI national champions, but if you want to be legends, you’ve got to run the table and win the (CIFSS) D1 title.”

While Corona has opted out of trying to add on a CIF Southern California regional title to its other accomplishments, the Panthers clearly have done enough to end No. 1 in the final California state rankings and today we are going to go ahead and make it official that they will be the State Team of the Year. We also know of at least one national ranking that is going to put them No. 1 so that also will be enough for the school to claim a national championship with a sign on the outfield fence if it wants. We don’t think that MaxPreps is going to elevate the Panthers to No. 1 since its No. 1 team (Baton Rouge Catholic of Louisiana) is done playing and dropping a No. 1 team without that team losing is frowned upon by anyone with credibility doing rankings.

Corona’s Anthony Murphy is one of top-ranked sophomores in the nation. Photo:

Last year when the CIFSS D1 championship team opted out of the CIF regional playoffs that was No. 1 in the state, we did not get out the State Team of the Year announcement until the season was completely over. With much respect to current state No. 3 Granada of Livermore, which took a 28-1 record into Friday’s CIF North Coast Section D1 championship game, it isn’t going to matter what the Matadors might do in the next two weeks. We also don’t drop No. 1 teams at the end that are done and don’t lose. There will be a CIF state championship in the coming years and after that happens we would wait until everything is over, but at that point we don’t think any of the top CIFSS teams are going to opt out, either. Like JSerra’s Brett Kay last year, Wise also said the Panthers would be playing in the regionals if it had been one week earlier and if there was a state championship to play for.

The Panthers are only the fourth team ever from the Inland Empire area of the state to finish as State Team of the Year. The last one was Arlington of Riverside for 1999. That team featured State Player of the Year Ryan Christenson, a former MLB outfielder and currently bench coach for the San Francisco Giants. There also was the 26-0 team from Ontario for 1991 and back before that you have to go to 1956 for Chaffey of Ontario.

Since the State Team of the Year honor roll goes back more than 130 years, that’s a lot of history for this year’s Corona team to be compared to. That Arlington team had a slightly better record (29-2 compared to 30-3), but the NHSI didn’t exist and the Lions were not as highly ranked nationally. Ontario was unbeaten and had a team considered among the best ever in SoCal history, but won its CIFSS title in a lower division than the top. Chaffey’s 1957 and 1958 teams also were CIFSS major division champions to go with 1956 but the Tigers were not State Team of the Year and if anyone ever looked up info on Fresno High’s 1957 and 1958 teams one would know why.

As a coach, Wise has been part of a great team before. He was an assistant at La Quinta of Westminster in 2003 that won the CIFSS D4 title and finished 30-2. That team also had future MLB stars Ian Stewart (3B) and Ian Kennedy (P) and probably would have gone 32-0 if Kennedy and top shortstop Blake Crosby were not available in the two losses. The Aztecs were not State Team of the Year as they were runner-up to a La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad squad (32-1) that is considered by some to be the greatest team in CIF San Diego Section history. Wise’s head coach for that team, Dave Demarest (also one of the winningest head coaches in state history), served as an assistant on his staff at Corona for this year’s team.

“The No. 1 thing about both teams was just that expectation that we were going to win,” said Wise when asked for a comparison. “Corona of this year was deeper and a few more of the La Quinta top players that year were younger.”

Fresno High’s 1958 team also is generally considered to have the best 1-2 pitching combo in state history. Its two aces, Dick Ellsworth and Jim Maloney, were part of a team that had 15 shutouts and lost its only game to a D1 college freshman team. Ellsworth and Maloney went on to both win 20 games in the major leagues within five years of graduating from high school and both had long MLB careers.

This year’s duo at Corona of senior Ethan Scheifelbein and junior Seth Hernandez could one day rival those two old-timers and the two from Harvard-Westlake who were both there at the same time — Lucas Giolito and Max Fried. Giolito only pitched a handful of innings as a senior in 2012 after Fried transferred in, however, due to an elbow injury. Jack Flaherty (also now a frontline MLB starting pitcher) stepped up after that, but was only a freshman when Fried was a senior.

Corona head coach Andy Wise also was part of one of the greatest teams in Orange County history at La Quinta of Westminster in 2003. Photo:

When Scheifelbein or Hernandez pitched, the Panthers were not beaten. Schiefelbein (UCLA) went in the CIFSS title game and threw a two-hitter with nine strikeouts and no walks. He finished 8-0 with a 0.27 ERA. He also had two hits in that game and batted .319 with 17 RBI. Hernandez (Vanderbilt commit) pitched six innings in the team’s semifinal victory (3-1) over Huntington Beach. He struck out six with a four-hitter and finished 9-0 with a 0.62 ERA. He also went 2-for-3 with a homer and two RBI in that game and had eight homers on the season (led team) with 34 RBI (led team) and a .352 average.

“I love Ian Kennedy, but if I had to pick one pitcher over anybody it would be Ethan,” Wise said. “I get it that Seth is supposed to one day have the best stuff, but he also was our No. 3 hitter all season. All of his home runs meant something.”

Schiefelbein could hear his name called early in this year’s MLB Draft as one of the top 100 prospects in the nation, but there are a few other high school pitchers in the state who are projected higher. Hernandez was recently ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the nation for the 2025 MLB Draft by Perfect Game (behind only Ethan Holliday of Stillwater, Okla.), but the most amazing aspect of that list was the players ranked at No. 6 and No. 8. That would be Corona’s Billy Carlson at No. 6 and Corona’s Brady Ebel at No. 8. Yes, that’s three from the same high school team among the top eight in the nation. We’re not even sure Mater Dei or St. John Bosco football has ever had three players that highly ranked.

Carlson, also committed to Vanderbilt, saved the season for the Panthers when he hit a game-winning homer in the eighth inning of the first CIFSS playoff game, which was a 1-0 win over El Dorado of Placentia. He later hit two homers in a 6-4 CIFSS playoff win over Aquinas of San Bernardino. He also closed out playoff wins over Mater Dei and Huntington Beach as a pitcher.

Ebel (LSU commit) was the State Freshman of the Year two years ago at Etiwanda and along with his younger brother, Trey, transferred to Corona prior to this season. The sons of L.A. Dodgers’ third base coach Dino Ebel weren’t eligible until after 30 days from the start of the season. Brady had some big hits later in the season, but couldn’t quite get untracked overall and had a .259 average.

Two returning players for the Panthers from last year who had huge seasons were sophomore outfielder Anthony Murphy and senior catcher Josh Springer. Murphy, the 2023 State Freshman Player of the Year, led the team with a .390 average and was second in homers with six. Springer, signed with Oregon, kept everything under control and was the team’s second leading hitter at .380.

Corona’s No. 1 ranking in baseball as a public school also isn’t rare for that type of success for a team in the Corona-Norco Unified School District. CNUSD teams in softball (Norco), boys basketball (Corona Centennial) and football (Corona Centennial) have all been wildly successful in recent years. If there’s a model for a large public school to not only compete with major private school powerhouses from leagues such as the Trinity League or Mission League but beat them, then schools in the CNUSD know how to do it.

“I came out here 15 years ago from Orange County where it’s always been Mater Dei football and Mater Dei basketball,” Wise said. “I didn’t know about Centennial football, but liked the way they do things and got to meet and talk to (head coach) Matt Logan. There’s just a ton of talent out here. If you have the right program, a kid driving an extra three miles isn’t going to matter.”

With players like Hernandez, Carlson, Murphy and the Ebel brothers plus others, Corona’s bullseye on its backs next year likely will be even bigger than this year, and that’s something we expect the team will be ready for.

“We haven’t thought about next year, but it makes me smile and we’re going to relish the opportunity,” Wise said. “And I don’t think the players are going to be shy or nervous about it one bit. They just want to keep doing what they do.”


(All teams listed prior to 1980 based on research by our founder,
the late Nelson Tennis)

Former MLB player Mike Sweeney (center) and others show off patches after Ontario High completed 1991 season at 26-0. Photo: Ed Lee.

2024 – Corona (30-3)
2023 – San Juan Capistrano JSerra (24-9)
2022 – Concord De La Salle (27-6)
2021 – Thousand Oaks (29-1)
2020 – No Selection (Pandemic)
2019 – Concord De La Salle (29-1)
2018 – San Jose Valley Christian (29-3-1)
2017 – Chula Vista Eastlake (32-4)
2016 – Clovis Buchanan (30-1)
2015 – Pleasant Hill College Park (26-4)
2014 – Clovis (33-5)
2013 – North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake (28-4)
2012 – Vista (31-4)
2011 – Clovis Buchanan (30-2)
2010 – San Jose Archbishop Mitty (31-3)
2009 – Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley (26-6)
2008 – Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (27-4)
2007 – Long Beach Wilson (31-3)
2006 – San Jose Bellarmine (34-4)
2005 – Woodland Hills El Camino Real (28-4)
2004 – Chatsworth (35-0)
2003 – Carlsbad La Costa Canyon (32-1)
2002 – La Puente Bishop Amat (28-2)
2001 – La Puente Bishop Amat (27-2)
2000 – San Diego Rancho Bernardo (30-3)
1999 – Riverside Arlington (29-2)
1998 – Clovis (33-2)
1997 – Clovis (32-2) (plus one win by default)
1996 – Granada Hills Kennedy (31-3)
1995 – Fountain Valley (26-3-1)
1994 – Fountain Valley (27-3-1)
1993 – Fresno Bullard (26-3-1)
1992 – San Diego Mira Mesa (26-5)
1991 – Ontario (26-0)
1990 – Cupertino Monta Vista (27-3)
1989 – Fresno Bullard (28-2)
1988 – Fresno Bullard (29-1)
1987 – Lakewood (25-7)
1986 – Santee Santana (26-2)
1985 – Oxnard Rio Mesa (27-3)
1984 – Rancho Cordova (33-5-1)
1983 – El Cerrito (27-1)
1982 – San Diego Mt. Carmel (24-2)
1981 – Westminster (23-4)
1980 – Fresno Bullard (29-2)
1979 – Visalia Mt. Whitney (20-3)
1978 – Larkspur Redwood (30-5)
1977 – West Covina Edgewood (29-1)
1976 – Lakewood (22-4-1)
1975 – Torrance Bishop Montgomery (27-3)
1974 – Torrance North (26-6-1)
1973 – El Segundo (30-5)
1972 – Venice (19-3)
1971 – El Segundo (33-2)
1970 – Lompoc (27-1)
1969 – Sacramento Grant (16-1)
1968 – Fresno Hoover (27-3)
1967 – Long Beach Millikan (20-4)
1966 – El Segundo (24-4-1)
1965 – San Diego Crawford (22-4)
1964 – Lynwood (23-2)
1963 – Long Beach Poly (21-4)
1962 – Sacramento Bishop Armstrong (22-2)
1961 – S.F. Sacred Heart (32-2-1)
1960 – Fresno Roosevelt (20-2)
1959 – S.F. St. Ignatius (28-3)
1958 – Fresno (25-1)
1957 – Fresno (22-2)
1956 – Ontario Chaffey (21-5)
1955 – South Gate (17-2)
1954 – L.A. Loyola (22-5)
1953 – Compton (23-2)
1952 – S.F. Sacred Heart (29-5)
1951 – Sacramento McClatchy (22-0-1)
1950 – Long Beach Wilson (24-3)
1949 – San Diego (29-3)
1948 – San Diego (26-3)
1947 – S.F. Mission (12-1)*
1946 – San Diego (24-7)
1945 – S.F. Mission (10-0, League)
1944 – S.F. Mission (9-0, League)
1943 – L.A. Fremont (13-1)
1942 – San Diego Hoover (13-0 vs. prep teams)
1941 – S.F. Galileo (12-1)*
1940 – S.F. Mission (11-1)*
1939 – San Diego (20-5)
1938 – Glendale (4-0, Playoffs)
1937 – S.F. Commerce (12-2, League)
1936 – Long Beach Poly (23-2)
1935 – Sacramento (20-1)
1934 – S.F. Mission (7-0, League)
1933 – Fresno Roosevelt (20 -2)
1932 – San Diego (11-4)
1931 – S.F. Mission (8-0, League)
1930 – San Diego (19-3)
1929 – San Diego (31-5)
1928 – San Diego (22-8-1)
1927 – Fullerton (29-5-1)
1926 – Alameda (21-1)
1925 – Los Angeles (6-0, League)
1924 – S.F. Sacred Heart (6-0)*
1923 – San Diego (15-4)
1922 – S.F. Mission (6-1)*
1921 – San Diego (18-5-2)
1920 – San Diego (13-1)
1919 – Oakland Technical (8-0)*
1918 – San Diego (12-6)
1917 – San Diego (12-1)
1916 – S.F. Poly (7-0, League)
1915 – S.F. Sacred Heart (5-0)*
1914 – S.F. Lowell (6-0)*
1913 – Long Beach Poly (19-3-1)
1912 – Long Beach Poly (17-5)
1911 – S.F. Sacred Heart (5-0)*
1910 – S.F. Sacred Heart (8-0)*
1909 – Alameda (5-0)*
1908 – Palo Alto (4-0)*
1907 – Alameda (5-1)*
1906 – S.F. Lick (1-0 League)**
1905 – S.F. Lick (9-1-1)*
1904 – Palo Alto
1903 – Berkeley
1902 – S.F. Lowell
1901 – Berkeley
1900 – S.F. Cogswell
1899 – Palo Alto (5-0)
*Record for league and playoff games only.
** Playoffs and remainder of league schedule were cancelled due to earthquake.
Lick’s 1906 team was regarded as being better than its 1905 team.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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