Prep Rally: Unbeaten Sierra Canyon should command attention at the Boras Classic

Sierra Canyon's dominant senior pitchers: Kassius Thomas (left), Max Martin, Jaden Noot and Eddie Mgdesyan.
Sierra Canyon’s dominant senior pitchers: Kassius Thomas (left), Max Martin, Jaden Noot and Eddie Mgdesyan.
(Sierra Canyon)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. It’s Boras Classic week, a 16-team baseball tournament at JSerra and Santa Ana Mater Dei that brings together top teams in a four-day tournament beginning Tuesday. Much attention will be on 22-0 Sierra Canyon, which has pitchers committed to LSU, USC, Duke and UC Irvine.

Testing time for Sierra Canyon

Sierra Canyon's dominant senior pitchers: Kassius Thomas (left), Max Martin, Jaden Noot and Eddie Mgdesyan.
Sierra Canyon’s dominant senior pitchers: Kassius Thomas (left), Max Martin, Jaden Noot and Eddie Mgdesyan.
(Sierra Canyon)

Sierra Canyon has been known for its basketball teams, but it’s now the baseball team getting attention. The Trailblazers have started the season with 22 consecutive victories, a No. 1 ranking in Southern Division 2 and get to play in this week’s Boras Classic that begins on Tuesday.


As a major league baseball player for 15 years, former Dodgers infielder Jerry Royster used to face Hall of Fame pitchers Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver. Some of his Sierra Canyon players probably aren’t familiar with those players, but let’s just say they threw hard.

“I had to figure out how to get the ball out of the air,” Royster said. “Today they’re figuring out how to get the ball into the air. In order to be effective, I had to be on base. I was a stolen base guy.”

Times have changed, but Royster has adapted to his role as head coach of the Trailblazers. Pitching and defense wins championships in high school baseball, and Sierra Canyon is the team to beat in Division 2.

Here’s a preview of the Trailblazers going into the Boras Classic. Ten of teams entered are in this week’s Times top 25 rankings.

City finals return to Dodger Stadium

Players from Birmingham celebrate in the 2017 City championship game at Dodger Stadium.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The City Section baseball championship game is returning to Dodger Stadium.

Every season since 1969, the championship game was played at Dodger Stadium, a streak that reached 51 consecutive years until COVID-19 issues forced the 2020 season to be canceled. In 2021, COVID-19 issues again kept the City Section from playing their championship game at Dodger Stadium.

This season, Dodger Stadium is available for use on May 28. The Dodgers only charge the City Section for labor costs and offered use of the facility for $27,543.20, the same as 2019 and a reduction from an original offer of $32,000.


The City Section approved the decision to return to Dodger Stadium. The Open Division and Division I championships will be played on May 28. The Division II and III finals will be played at Birmingham on May 27.

Here’s the deal.

Enjoying this newsletter?

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a Los Angeles Times subscriber.

Hunter Greene thrives

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Hunter Greene throws to the plate during the first inning.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Hunter Greene throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday, April 16, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Hunter Greene returned to Southern California to put on a show.

The former Sherman Oaks Notre Dame pitcher made his first career start at Dodger Stadium on Saturday and threw five scoreless innings before giving up a two-run home run to Trea Turner in the sixth.

He set a major league record for most 100-plus mph pitches in a game. It’s just beginning of his career. He intends to make an impact on and off the field.

Running the Marathon

Carolina Baiza brought her tennis shoes, just in case.

As fate would have it, her daughter Andrea was laboring. In the last stretch of a 26.2-mile trek in March’s Los Angeles Marathon, Andrea called her mother, despondent.


“Mom, I can’t do this,” Baiza remembers her daughter saying. “This is too hard for me. My body’s hurting. The sun is so bad.”

So Baiza laced up her shoes and joined the fray, running alongside Andrea for the last few miles.

After moving to the Los Angeles area from Mexico City in 2015, Baiza and her family had to start from scratch. Son Alejandro had to find new passions. Andrea, then in third grade, wasn’t able to speak much English

After discovering the Hollywood Police Activities League (PAL), Alejandro and Andrea became involved with its branch of Students Run LA (SRLA), a nonprofit dedicated to helping kids run the L.A. Marathon. At a time when “it was just us,” Baiza said of her family, the program helped her children — and others involved — feel at home.

“These kids are getting the opportunity to see life in a different scenario,” Baiza said.

A profile of a group of kids who made it through the Marathon.

Klein legacy continues at USC

Loyola's Dillon Klein is above the net during a volleyball match.
(Brody Hannon)

Dillon Klein of Loyola might be the best high school volleyball player in California. At 6 feet 5 with a vertical leap of 36 inches, he has led the Cubs to a No. 1 ranking in Southern Section Division 1.


He’s also preparing to resume the Klein legacy at USC. His grandfather is Bob Klein, who was a star tight end with the Trojans and the Rams.

He tells the story of his father, Jimmy, reading a speech when he was young.

“My dad read me a speech that he wrote about my grandpa that a grandchild might end up going to SC and follow in your footsteps,” he said. “I think my grandpa is really stoked for me. I think it’s really cool to be able to go where my grandpa was.”


The Mt. SAC Relays was the last big event before City Section and Southern Section athletes start preparing for league finals, prelims and finals. And Rayshon Luke of St. John Bosco really turned up the speed, running 100 meters in 10.32 seconds.

Here’s a report from the Mt. SAC Relays.


The toughest league in high school softball is the Big VIII. Teams continue to push long-time power Norco, but this season, the Cougars enter this week standing atop the league standings at 5-0.

The power hitting of Myra Perez and Abby Dalton has kept the Cougars in first place.

Roosevelt hasn’t beaten Norco since the 2014 season, but there’s another showdown to end the regular season on April 27 at Norco that could decide the league title. Roosevelt is 5-1 in league and 17-3 overall after losing to the Cougars 19-5 last week.

The City Section softball championship game will be played May 21 at Cal State Northridge. El Camino Real is the heavy favorite.

According to MaxPreps, the leading hitter in the state is sophomore Isabella Ochoa of Downey Calvary Chapel. She has an .833 batting average with 55 hits, including 11 triples and six home runs. Kate Penberthy of Hart and Jaeya Butler of Aquinas each have 13 home runs.

There’s a possibility that Villa Park ace pitcher Sydney Somerndike makes a return to pitching this week after being sidelined with an ankle injury. Villa Park hopes to get her some work before the playoffs begin next month.


Notes . . .

Long Beach Poly sophomore linebacker Dylan Williams has committed to USC. . . .

Freshman guard Peyton Watson from UCLA announced he is entering the NBA draft and hiring an agent. He was at Long Beach Poly a year ago. . . .

Golfer Timmy Jung of Edison won the Champions’ Invitational at Indian Wells Golf Resort. . . .

Former Mater Dei quarterback JT Daniels has transferred from Georgia to West Virginia. . . .

Basketball star Mikey Williams is returning to San Jacinto for his senior year. . . .

Bobby Johnson is new the basketball coach at Moorpark. He has coached club basketball. . . .

Former Viewpoint guard Christian Juzang has joined the Vietnam national basketball team for a competition in Asia. He played professionally in Vietnam. . . .

St. John Bosco has finalized details to travel to Texas on Aug. 26 to play Allen in a nonleague football game. . . .


Doctor Bradley from Gardena Serra has committed to New Mexico State for basketball.

Two senior Canoga Park football players have found colleges. Anthony Villalobos committed to Whittier College and standout running back Kayden Collins committed to San Jose State, where former City Section coach Eric Scott is an assistant coach and also recruited Banning running back Jakob Galloway. . . .

Norco football/baseball standout Grant Gray has committed to UCLA. The junior is a standout receiver and outfielder and plans to play both for the Bruins.

The Food Taster

The Good Bar is sold at Calabasas baseball games.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

In my latest tasting of snack bar food, Calabasas High has The Good Bar. I don’t know what’s in it but it sure tastes so delicious. It’s sold at Calabasas baseball games. Try it and you’ll come back for more.

From the archives: Tiare Jennings

Shortstop Tiare Jennings of St. Anthony has been named the Gatorade state player of the year in softball.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Tiare Jennings, a graduate of Long Beach St. Anthony, is the reigning NCAA freshman of the year in softball at Oklahoma.


She’s hitting .374 with 16 home runs and 49 RBIs for the 38-1 Sooners.

Jennings had her senior year at St. Anthony cut short because of COVID-19 issues. She was the Gatorade state player of the year in softball.

She was part of The Times’ Season Interrupted series in 2020 talking to high school seniors how they were dealing with their senior years being disrupted by COVID-19.

Here’s the link.


From CNBC, a story on a 17-year-old earning $100,000 for playing basketball.

From the New York Times, a story on how a town in Georgia has become Soccer Town USA.


From the Washington Post, a story on a middle school quarterback getting offers from high schools.

From the Los Angeles Times, a story on the rise of former Sherman Oaks Notre Dame pitcher Hunter Greene.

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.

Did you get this newsletter forwarded to you? To sign up and get it in your inbox, click here.