Prep Rally: Which baseball teams are living up to the preseason hype?

Orange Lutheran pitcher Oliver Santos delivers against Servite on March 15.
Orange Lutheran pitcher Oliver Santos delivers against Servite on March 15. Santos has helped push the Lancers to a 12-2 start.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. It’s one month into the high school baseball season and time to see which players are teams are living up to their preseason rankings.

Baseball stars

Servite second baseman Agustin Gutierrez (24) tags out Orange Lutheran's Bryan Martinez (23).
Servite second baseman Agustin Gutierrez (24) tags out Orange Lutheran’s Bryan Martinez (23) during a rundown near third base at Servite High School on March 15.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Orange Lutheran is living up to its preseason hype and continues to hold down the No. 1 ranking in high school baseball. One surprise for the Lancers is the development of pitcher Oliver Santos, a transfer from Mater Dei. He has emerged as an early-season ace. Casey Borba, the son of head coach Eric Borba, has been showing off his power. The junior is committed to Texas.


The Trinity League remains a very competitive league. Only the top three teams are guaranteed spots for the Division 1 playoffs, so some good teams might not make it. It’s an all-out battle with Servite, Santa Margarita and JSerra. St. John Bosco is in Division 3, so it can get an at-large spot if it doesn’t finish in the top three. Servite had a big week with a three-game sweep of Santa Margarita.

Gardena Serra is 11-3 and 4-0 in the Del Rey League. Sophomore pitcher Jaden Harris is 4-0.

Villa Park is 12-1 under coach Burt Call, who was let go several years ago at Santa Ana Mater Dei.

In the City Section, pitching has been impressive among the top teams, Birmingham, Granada Hills, Roosevelt and Palisades. Granada Hills defeated Roosevelt 1-0 in eight innings in which Lino Zepeda struck out 14 for Roosevelt.

Long Beach Millikan has been showing off quality pitching thanks to Myles Patton, who outdueled Long Beach Wilson’s Charles Royle 1-0 last week. Travis Scott is 6-0 for Estancia.

Among hitters, there have been big starts for Calabasas junior Phoenix Call and Norco junior Cameron Kim, both of whom are batting above .500. Andrew Citron of Harvard-Westlake is 20 for 36. Eastvale Roosevelt senior Patrick Fregoso has 25 hits and 22 RBIs.

Torrance is 15-1-1. Arlington is 16-1. Neither was in preseason rankings.

Here’s this week’s top 25 rankings by The Times.

Fast times at Harvard-Westlake

Soccer star Alyssa Thompson of Harvard-Westlake is ready to make an impact running the 100, 200 and 400 in track and field.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

A sweatshirt that says “United States of America” is the only clue that the 17-year-old girl walking around Harvard-Westlake’s campus in Studio City is someone sports fans from Los Angeles to London might one day recognize as easily as LeBron James.

Alyssa Thompson is no ordinary high school athlete. This month she earned a gold medal playing for the USA U20 women’s national soccer team in the CONCACAF championships. She was the second-youngest player on the team and the fastest. A year ago, as a sophomore, she was honored as the Gatorade national girls’ soccer player of the year. This season, she didn’t play for her high school team while preparing to represent her country.

She’s back in class after spending three weeks in the Dominican Republic training and competing. It was the longest she had been away from family and friends. At the airport, her mother was in tears greeting her. There were signs and flowers. Her sophomore sister, Giselle, another soccer star, was there, along with 10-year-old sister Zoe, another phenom in the making.

Now it’s on to track season and what a first race she ran. Here’s a profile.


The maintenance crew at Azusa Pacific will need weeks to scrub away the scorch marks on the track in the wake of Saturday night’s Meet of Champions Distance Classic.

Numerous state and national records were shattered as Newbury Park senior Colin Sahlman and his teammates put on a display never before seen in the history of the event.

Sahlman clocked 1 minute 48.84 seconds to edge younger brother Aaron (1:48.91) in the boys’ 800, destroying the meet record of 1:50.10 set by Placentia Valencia’s Sean Krinik in 2010. The brothers’ times are the fastest in the country this year.

Here’s a rundown of the other records set.

The Arcadia Invitational in two weeks is shaping up as quite a meet.

Rodrick Pleasant of Gardena Serra ran his first 100 meters of the season at the Texas Relays. He definitely was pleased with a 10.39 opening time.

Max Thomas of Servite set another record in winning the 100 at the Orange County championships in 10.41 seconds.

UCLA-bound Jaydn Marshall of St. Mary’s in Northern California ran 13.35 in the 110 hurdles at the Texas Relays. He’s coming down for the Arcadia Invitational.

There’s going to be great triple jump competition between Jonathan Yu of Fountain Valley and Camryn O’Bannon of St. John Bosco.

Dalia Frias of Mira Costa is running faster than any girl distance runner in years.


The top teams in softball have become pretty clear.

This past week’s top 20 Southern California rankings from

1. (1) Villa Park

2. (2) Oaks Christian

3. (3) Camarillo

4. (4) Eastvale Roosevelt

5. (5) Murrieta Mesa

6. (6) Los Alamitos

Here’s the remaining teams.

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Brian Flacks gets promotion

Harvard-Westlake water polo coach Brian Flacks is leaving for Stanford.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Brian Flacks, the highly regarded aquatics director at Harvard-Westlake in Studio City who built the boys’ program into a high school powerhouse, has been hired as the water polo coach at Stanford.

He replaces John Vargas, who retired at Stanford after 20 years and two NCAA championships.

It’s quite a promotion, going from high school head coach to college head coach at Stanford, but that’s what can happen in water polo, where many of the high school coaches have experience with USA water polo and have earned respect as developing talent.

Flacks is one of those rare coaches whose future is bright at many levels. Here’s a look at what Stanford is getting.

Notes . . .

Quarterback Nico Iamaleava of Long Beach Poly announced he has committed to Tennessee. ...

Former Chaminade infielder Carter Graham entered this past week leading Stanford in hitting with a .385 batting average, including six home runs. ...

Former Taft football coach Aaron Gideon is the new head coach at Escondido. ...

Russell Gordon, a former head coach at Campbell Hall and La Salle, is the new football coach at Quartz Hill. ...

The McDonald’s All-American basketball games will be played Tuesday in Chicago. Gabriela Jaquez of Camarillo is in the girls’ game with Amari Bailey and Kijani Wright of Sierra Canyon in the boys’ game. Action is at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

From the archives: Christian Koloko

Arizona's Christian Koloko.
Arizona’s Christian Koloko dunks next to Washington’s Nate Roberts during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, in Seattle. Arizona won 92-68. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)
(John Froschauer/AP)

When Christian Koloko arrived at Birmingham High from Cameroon for his junior year, he was your typical 7-footer — awkward, uncertain and trying to learn how to play basketball in a body he was still learning about. He wore glasses. He wasn’t a standout and didn’t dominate games.

There were flashes of potential. He’d go on to transfer to Sierra Canyon to keep his U.S. visa. Arizona recruited him seeing his potential. And what a player he has become.

He’s expected to be an NBA lottery pick. In the first half last week against Texas Christian, he made eight of his nine shots and had 18 points. Many call him the most improved player in college basketball.

Here’s a story from 2020 when he was called “a project.”


From the Seattle Times, a story on former Birmingham catcher Johnny Tincher.

From the Los Angeles Times, a story on how former Camarillo standout Jaime Jaquez Jr. became UCLA’s toughest player.

From, a story on former Valley Torah basketball player Ryan Turell’s bid to become the first Orthodox Jewish player in the NBA.

Tweets you might have missed

Until next time...

Have a question, comment or something you’d like to see in a future Prep Rally newsletter? Email me at, and follow me on Twitter at @latsondheimer.

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