Prep Rally: These teams are making the final push for the baseball playoffs

Birmingham coach Matt Mowry has won five City titles but never a West Valley League title.
Birmingham coach Matt Mowry has won five City titles but never a West Valley League title. His team is 7-0 with two weeks left.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. There’s two weeks left in the regular season for high school baseball in the Southern Section. Time for a final push to make the playoffs and win league titles.

Time running out

Mater Dei players celebrate after winning the Boras Classic Southern California Division with upset of Corona.
(Nick Koza)

All the Trinity League spots are up for grab, including champion. Santa Margarita (6-3) and Orange Lutheran (6-3) are tied for first place, with JSerra, Mater Dei and St. John Bosco close behind.


The Big VIII League champion should be decided this week after results of a three-game series between Corona and Corona Centennial.

Calabasas and Westlake are tied for first place in the Marmonte League. Calabasas closes with three-game series against Oaks Christian and Agoura. Westlake gets Newbury Park and Oaks Christian.

The biggest surprise in the City Section with four weeks left is Birmingham, which is 7-0 in the West Valley League and in position to win its first league title for coach Matt Mowry, who has won five City titles. The Patriots will play Granada Hills in a two-game series next week to decide the league title and likely No. 1 seeding for the City Open Division playoffs.

Baseball rewind

Seth Hernandez of Corona.
(Nick Koza)

Corona, Huntington Beach, Harvard-Westlake and Orange Lutheran traveled to Cary, N.C., for the National High School Invitational and all four teams made the semifinals. Corona won it 3-0 over Orange Lutheran behind pitcher Seth Hernandez. Here’s the report.


Vinny Van der Wal made senior day at Chaminade as memorable as it could be. He hit a three-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh to beat Birmingham 9-7. Add to that, Nolan Mowry, the son of Birmingham coach Matt Mowry, had three hits on his senior day for Chaminade.

Simon Hoffman of Calabasas had a big week against Thousand Oaks, going seven for 10 with seven RBIs, including a grand slam.

Stevie Jones of Corona del Mar turned in a top pitching performance against Newport Harbor. Here’s the report.

St. Francis gave coach Shaun Kort a happy 36th birthday present with a 1-0 win over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.

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

Dealing with Type 1 diabetes

Junior pitcher Colin Moore of Crescenta Valley is 8-1 this season while dealing with Type 1 diabetes.
(Matt Sellars)

There are important things teenage athletes never forget when leaving home. Cellphone. Wallet. Bottle of water.

For Colin Moore, a junior pitcher at Crescenta Valley High with Type 1 diabetes, he has another must-have item.

“I keep a jar of Skittles in my baseball bag every game,” he said.

That’s his emergency go-to item if his blood sugar level becomes too low.

Here’s his profile.


Pitcher Addison Moorman of Granada Hills.
(Craig Weston)

A year ago, Granada Hills lost to Carson in the City Section championship softball game. The Highlanders are taking no prisoners this season en route to a 17-1 record and have been dominating City Section opponents. El Camino Real coach Jodi Borenstein said the Highlanders remind her of many of El Camino Real’s great teams (the Royals have won 18 City titles).

Center fielder Jeniece Jimenez of Granada Hills makes a running catch of a fly ball during her team's 6-0 win over ECR.
(Craig Weston)

Granada Hills’ success starts with the hard throwing Addison Moorman, who receives plenty of help with a strong defense. Jocelyn Jimenez leads the team in hitting with a .516 average, including 33 hits.

Dani Jackman of University Prep in Victorville has hit 16 home runs, giving her 60 career home runs, tying the state record set in 2015 by Tannon Snow of Chino Hills.

Rylee McCoy of Oaks Christian had a streak of going 10 for 10 and reaching base 14 consecutive times in her previous three games with five home runs and 10 RBIs. On the season, she has a .559 batting average with 33 hits, seven home runs and 27 RBIs.

Taylor Shumaker of Esperanza has it 17 home runs this season.

Here’s the latest top 20 rankings.


Jordan Coleman of Granada Hills opened his outdoor season with a 10.88 clocking in 100.
Jordan Coleman of Granada Hills opened his outdoor season with a 10.88 clocking in 100 and helped the 4 x 100 relay team run 40.29, fastest in the state this year.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Granada Hills’ Jordan Coleman returned to the outdoors circuit Thursday, running the 100 meters in 10.88 seconds and helping the 4x100 relay team run 40.29, the fifth fastest in state history. The state record is 40.14 by Long Beach Poly in 1999. Here’s the report.

The relay team and Coleman will be participating at the Mt. SAC Relays this weekend.

Pole vaulter Jade McKee of King cleared 17 feet in a dual meet, stamping himself as the athlete to beat in the event.


At the Orange County championships, Devin Bragg of Los Alamitos won the 100 in a meet-record and wind-legal 10.50 seconds. He also won the 200.

At the Ventura County championships, Weston Schwesinger of Oaks Christian had the fastest times in the 100 (10.88) and 200 (22.09). Anthony Fast Horse of Ventura took the 1,600 in 4:09.57. Cade Sommers of Westlake went 16-1 in the pole vault.

Defending state girls’ 100 champion Nija Clayton of Oaks Christian had the best time of 11.75 in the 100. Valentina Fakrogha of Ventura went 5-6 in the high jump.

Leaping to the stars

Birmingham senior Deshawn Banks clears the bar at six feet, nine inches to win the boys' high jump.
Birmingham senior Deshawn Banks clears the bar at six feet, nine inches to win the boys’ high jump at the Arcadia Invitational on April 6, 2024.
(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Deshawn Banks was an All-City basketball player this season. But his real specialty has become the high jump. He won the Arcadia Invitational, clearing 6-9. He won the City title last year.

Not bad for someone who didn’t start high jumping until last year after his basketball coach told players to find a spring sport. With little practice and little coaching, he kept going higher and higher.

Here’s his profile.


He went 6-11 at a dual meet on Thursday vs. Taft.

Coaching change at Mater Dei

Mater Dei dismissed Frank McManus after one season as head football coach.
(Craig Weston)

Mater Dei sure knows how to make surprise announcements late in the week. It was a Thursday night in 2022 when Bruce Rollinson announced he was retiring as football coach. And it was last Friday afternoon that the school announced it had dismissed his successor, Frank McManus, after just one season as head coach.

There was no reason given by Mater Dei for the coaching change. It sure wasn’t because of wins and losses. In his only season as head coach after serving for 16 years as an assistant, McManus guided Mater Dei to the Southern Section Division 1 title and state Open Division title.

Mater Dei officials watched over him closely after he took over for the controversial Rollinson. He declined to give out his phone number to media. Any interviews with him had to be set up through the school. He had received a strong endorsement from school president Michael Brennan when he was hired.

Here’s a report on the decision. The school is expected to swiftly name a replacement since spring football practice will soon begin.


There were some big-time matchups in boys and girls lacrosse last week.

St. Margaret’s boys finally had success against Foothill, winning 9-4. The Tartans had not beaten Foothill since 2019.


In girls’ lacrosse, San Clemente upset No. 1 Foothill 6-4. Charlotte Yeskulsky scored three goals.


The Surf League looks like the most competitive in Southern California high school volleyball. Corona del Mar, Huntington Beach and Newport Harbor all have one loss. Huntington Beach knocked off Newport Harbor in five sets last week.

Chatsworth has taken control of the West Valley League and is the likely No. 1 seed in the City Section.

Loyola has completed its season at 25-1-1 and will probably be the No. 1 seed for the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.

Mira Costa won the Karch Kiraly tournament in Santa Barbara last weekend, beating Newport Harbor. Victor Loiola was named tournament MVP.

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Notes . . .

Corona Centennial quarterback Husan Longstreet.
Corona Centennial quarterback Husan Longstreet.
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Junior quarterback Husan Longstreet of Corona Centennial announced Sunday he has committed to Texas A&M. . . .

Class of 2026 kicker CJ Wallace of St. John Bosco has committed to Washington. . . .

Sophomore Tajh Ariza, the son of former Westchester star Trevor Ariza, is leaving St. Bernard to attend his father’s alma mater. He’s a big pickup for City Section basketball. . . .

Three athletes from de Toledo High School have signed letters of intent — James Heller for baseball at Dayton, Keller Slotnick for baseball at Shorter and Sydney Greene for diving at US Merchant Marine Academy. . . .

Eddie Soto, who led Servite to two Southern Section boys’ soccer championships, has resigned after four seasons. The Servite job is one of the best in the Southland. . . .

LaVar Ball has signed Nogales as his first high school partner for Big Baller Brand shoes and apparael. . . .

The Southern Section baseball championships will take place May 17-18 at Storm Stadium in Lake Elsinore. . . .

In a potential state preview for golf, Palm Desert won the Champions Invitational at Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort, beating De La Salle. Sophomore Luke Ringkamp of Palm Desert won the individual title at 17-under for 54 holes. He won by 10 strokes. He had rounds of 64, 68 and 65. . . .


Former Rams players Austin Pettis and Todd Lyght have been named the offensive and defensive coordinators at Orange Lutheran. Aaron Corp, last year’s offensive coordinator, has moved out of state, according to the Orange County Register. . . .

Santa Margarita track sprinter Will Terry has committed to Colgate. . . .

Linebacker Scott Taylor of Loyola has committed to UCLA. . . .

Granada Hills junior catcher Alex Schmidt has committed to UC Irvine. . . .

Chet Hardy has resigned as water polo coach at Newbury Park. . . .

Ray Barefield is leaving Rancho Christian to become an assistant basketball coach at Fresno State. . . .

Former Harvard-Westlake standout Kikii Iriafen has entered the transfer portal after averaging 19.4 points and 11.0 rebounds for Stanford last season. Her sister plays for Harvard-Westlake, so coming home to watch her play is likely to result in her transferring to USC or UCLA. . . .

Roybal’s football team will be honored Thursday as the winner the Rams’ and LAUSD’s sixth annual Academic Challenge. Roybal players compiled a 3.08 grade-point average among a group of schools that participated in the challenge to finish first. . . .

Izabella Om and Camryn Hamaguchi have been named the co-head coaches for Fountain Valley’s girls’ basketball team.

From the archives: Spencer Dinwiddie

Lakers guard Austin Reaves (15) gives offensive play information to recently acquired Lakers guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26).
Lakers guard Austin Reaves (15) gives offensive play information to recently acquired Lakers guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26).
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Spencer Dinwiddie always wanted to return home after starring at Taft High. It’s finally happening playing for the Lakers.

Dinwiddie was a late bloomer at Taft. He was the City Section player of the year in 2011. He ended up signing with Colorado and has always had to prove himself again and again. It’s been no problem. He thrives on challenges and being underrated.

Here’s a story from 2009 detailing Dinwiddie’s improvement as a high school player and showing his potential.


From the Washington Post, an opinion piece on how farm girls have been scorching nets for years.

From the Los Angeles Times, a story on former Sierra Canyon star JuJu Watkins’ pro potential if she decided to go to the WNBA early.

From the Sports Journal, a story on the “real cause” of losing sports officials.

From the News Tribune, a story on possible transfer rule changes in Washington.


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Until next time...

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