Prep Rally: Meet softball speedster Kai Minor

Orange Lutheran center fielder Kai Minor.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. It’s the best time of the year for spring sports. The playoffs begin this week in baseball, softball and lacrosse. Track and field athletes qualify for the Southern Section finals Saturday. Volleyball playoffs continue. Let’s hope everyone follows the rules (no batting practice) so forfeits don’t happen.

The softball speedster

ORANGE, CA - APRIL 26: Orange Lutheran center fielder Kai Minor, 15, a freshman.
ORANGE, CA - APRIL 26: Orange Lutheran center fielder Kai Minor, 15, a freshman, hits off the batting tee before the start of a game against Santa Margarita at Orange Lutheran High School on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 in Orange, CA. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

The young center fielder stepped out of the batter’s box, grabbing at her shoulder, trying to windmill her arm in tiny circles.


Normally, Orange Lutheran High’s Kai Minor is unflappable on the softball diamond. Yet in this Tuesday afternoon at-bat against Santa Margarita, her stone-faced expression cracked into a grimace. Her shoulder had been nagging her through the weekend. Quickly, she made an assessment: She wouldn’t be able to fully swing through the pain.

Even when arms fail, with Minor’s fast feet, everything usually works out OK.

On a 3-2 count, she started churning before the ball crossed home, slapping a grounder to the left side. The Santa Margarita shortstop couldn’t have played it any better, gloving the ball and firing it to first. But it was too late. Minor, burning a hole up the line, had already smacked the base.

“She is so darn quick,” coach Steve Miklos said.

That’s a big reason why Miklos has hit Minor leadoff since her first game at Orange Lutheran — she’s a near-lock to get on base. As just a freshman, Minor has led Orange Lutheran (19-8) to a Trinity League title behind a ridiculous .548 batting average, and is already drawing the attention of college recruiters.

Here’s the link to a profile.

Here’s the link to complete softball playoff pairings in the Southern Section.

6 intentional walks

Ella Parker of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame is coming off a sophomore season in which she hit 15 home runs.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

In two games against Louisville this season, Ella Parker of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame was intentionally walked six times. That’s called being scared of what she might do. In two other at-bats, she also walked.

In fact, three times she was intentionally walked with no one on base. Parker is a junior committed to Oklahoma.


Despite the bat being out of her hands, Notre Dame still won the Mission League championship by beating Louisville. Parker has hit 10 home runs this season.


ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 15, 2022: Orange Lutheran Oliver Santos (8).
ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 15, 2022: Orange Lutheran Oliver Santos (8) pitches against Servite at Servite High School on March 15, 2022 in Anaheim, California.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

It was a wild final week for high school baseball.

Calabasas was swept in a three-game series with Agoura creating a three-way tie for first place in the Marmonte League with Agoura and Oaks Christian.

Harvard-Westlake lost to Chaminade in the bottom of the seventh on the final day, allowing Sherman Oaks Notre Dame to tie for first place in the Mission League. Notre Dame won the coin toss and will go in as the No. 1 team for the Division 1 playoffs.

Villa Park, coming off a championship at the Boras Classic, was beaten twice by Foothill, which won the Crestview League.


The Southern Section pairings will be announced on Monday. Orange Lutheran is the likely No. 1 seed for the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.

There is no dominant No. 1 or even No. 2 pitcher, which is an opportunity for a team that hits well to go far.

The City Section still has one week to go in the regular season. Granada Hills remains on a path to be the No. 1 seed in the Open Division. The Highlanders haven’t won the upper division title since 1984.

Carson is in position to win the Marine League. Palisades is running away with the Western League title. Birmingham is expected to finish second in the West Valley and offer its usual playoff challenge. Roosevelt is winning the Eastern League and has a dangerous ace pitcher in Lino Zepeda. Marshall came through with a 3-0 victory over Sylmar on Saturday and will win the Northern League.

The City Open Division and Division I finals are May 28 at Dodger Stadium. The Southern Section finals are at Cal State Fullerton.

Here’s the final regular-season top 25 baseball rankings by The Times.


Bash Brothers

The Gray brothers from Trabuco Hills, Joey (left), Mikey and Bobby. Joey and Bobby are twins.
(Gray family)

Every high school coach dreams of welcoming a family of athletic siblings. Think back to the basketball-starring Ball brothers from Chino Hills, the quarterbacking Clausen brothers from Mission Hills Bishop Alemany, Woodland Hills Taft and Westlake Village Oaks Christian, and the baseball-playing McClain brothers from Irvine Beckman.

This spring, the Gray brothers from Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills are high school baseball’s version of the “Bash Brothers.” Twins Bobby and Joey Gray, who are juniors, have combined to hit 15 home runs with 65 RBIs. And there’s their “little” brother, 6-foot-3 freshman Mikey, who has hit five home runs for the freshman team.

“It’s great because they’re great kids,” coach Michael Burns said.

At Granada Hills, the Perez twins could help the Highlanders win their first upper-division City baseball title since 1984. Zach is an ace pitcher with a 7-1 record and Danny is a backup catcher. They’re seniors.

Westlake has the Johnson twins, sophomores Nate and Nolan. Nate batted .324 and Nolan .358. Their oldest brother, Jack, was a four-year Westlake starter who signed with Baylor.

A look at brother power.

No batting practice

It’s time for the annual reminder that still seems to be ignored on occasion. Batting practice is not allowed before games during the playoffs.

Teams still like to force parents to break out their cameras to document when they engage in soft toss and don’t under the rules. Either follow the rules or the game could be forfeited.

Here’s the link to a 2021 story explaining what is allowed on soft toss.



Soccer star Alyssa Thompson of Harvard-Westlake.
Soccer star Alyssa Thompson of Harvard-Westlake ran the second fastest 100 meters of the season in California in winning the Mission League championship in 11.74 seconds.
(Dylan Stewart / PrepCalTrack)

Alyssa Thompson of Harvard-Westlake looked like Marion Jones on Thursday in running the 100 meters in 11.74 seconds at the Mission League finals. The nation’s top junior girls’ soccer standout is so fast she might win a state sprint title if she can find some practice time in between soccer commitments. That was the second fastest time in the state this season.

In the boys’ 100 final, Patrick Ize-Iyamu of Chaminade ran 10.44, the third-fastest legal time in the state. He will face the likes of Rayshon Luke of St. John Bosco and Max Thomas of Servite in the Division 3 finals.

Thomas won the Trinity League 100 and 200 championships.

The Southern Section track prelims are set for Saturday at noon. Division 1 is at Trabuco Hills, Division 2 at Ventura, Division 3 at Estancia and Division 4 at Carpinteria. The Southern Section finals are May 14 at Moorpark.

The City Section will hold its league finals this week.

Mater Dei fallout continues

Mater Dei Monarchs head coach Bruce Rollinson.
Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson.
(Jerome Miron/Jerome Miron)

In the most damning information to come out yet on last year’s incident at Santa Ana Mater Dei that resulted in a lawsuit filed by the student’s family alleging a culture of hazing in the football program, the former athletic director, Amanda Waters, said in a deposition that coach Bruce Rollinson, when asked about monitoring the locker room, responded repeatedly, “I don’t have time to do that s__.”

Mater Dei responded with a statement accusing Waters of fabricating information in her deposition.

Columnist Bill Plaschke offers his take on the school’s “shameful and callus” football hazing response.

Meanwhile, spring football practice goes on as usual. It’s batten down the hatches time at the school, which has apparently decided to go all-out to defend Rollinson and the winning football program no matter what.

It should make for another intriguing fall of as the world turns at Mater Dei.

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Historic hire at Servite

Tony Davis has left Mayfair to become basketball coach at Servite.
(Nick Koza)

Tony Davis has been the basketball coach at Mayfair since 2007, winning two Southern Section titles. He decided to make a change and accept the position of head coach at Servite. It’s a historic move by Servite hiring a Black head coach in the Trinity League, which had none in boys basketball until Santa Margarita hired Justin Bell two years ago.

Another historic coaching hire occurred at El Camino Real, which named a woman, 28-year-old Shawn Kolani, as its new boys basketball coach. She becomes the third woman to head a boys program in the City Section. Her brother, Jordan Farmar, played for Taft, UCLA and the Lakers.

NFL player takes over at St. Bernard

St. Bernard High has hired former NFL cornerback Orlando Scandrick as its new football coach to take over a program that hasn’t played any games since an abbreviated four-game spring schedule in 2021.

The program lost most of its varsity players after former coach Manuel Douglas resigned. Then came word the school was cooperating in a federal investigation involving two people associated with the program. The school hired Steve Broussard to take over the program in the summer of 2021 but didn’t have enough players to have a team in the fall.

Now Scandrick, 35, has been hired to restart the program in his first head coaching job. He attended Los Alamitos and Boise State and has helped support local passing tournaments in recent years.

NFL draft

St. Francis coach Jim Bonds died in 2020. He coached Greg Dulcich, a third-round draft pick of the Broncos.
St. Francis coach Jim Bonds died in 2020. He coached Greg Dulcich, a third-round draft pick of the Broncos.
(Tim Berger/Glendale News Press)

The NFL draft has come and gone. It was a good one for former high school players from Southern California.


The most intriguing pick came in the third round when tight end Greg Dulcich (St. Francis, UCLA) was taken by the Denver Broncos. The background of the story caused me to have a few tears.

Dulcich’s coach at St. Francis was Jim Bonds, who died after a battle with cancer in 2020. He was a quarterback at UCLA and his roommate and best friend was George Paton, the new general manager of the Broncos. Dulcich ended up at UCLA as a walk-on with the help of Bonds. He earned a scholarship and the rest is history. He was one of the best in the Pac-12.

You can tell by the phone call below how special it was for Paton to make the decision to draft Dulcich. Everyone was thinking of Jim Bonds.

First-round draft picks included Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oaks Christian, Oregon), Drake London (Moorpark, USC) and Trent McDuffie (St. John Bosco, Washington). Sean Rhyan (San Juan Hills, UCLA) and Matt Corral (Long Beach Poly, Mississippi) went in the third round.

Here’s a look at the local players taken in rounds four through seven.


Kelly Giese of Mira Costa is a tennis player who finished second at Ojai.
(Mira Costa )

Kelly Giese of Mira Costa is no longer an overlooked tennis player.

In a field of 64 players at the Ojai Tennis Tournament, he made it to the finals in a competition matching the best CIF boys players before falling to Conrad Brown of Irvine University 6-1, 6-4.

Only one other time has a Mira Costa player made it to the final — in 1986 when future pro Jeff Tarango did it.

Giese was the defending Bay League tennis champion but has made steady improvement and become one of the top players in the Southern Section during a 2022 season that has seen him win several tournaments.


Riley Padian has been a major contributor for Palos Verdes.
(Ed McClure


Sophomore Riley Padian of Palos Verdes has had quite a girls’ lacrosse season.

This past week, she had six goals and two assists in a 16-6 win over Mira Costa, helping her team clinch the Bay League championship.

She picked up her 100th career point and scored her 75th goal of the season.

Here’s the link to Southern Section playoff pairings.

El Camino Real and Palisades won the girls and boys City Section championships in lacrosse.

Notes . . .

Rheina Ale is the new girls’ basketball coach at Bishop Montgomery. She was the 2007-08 Del Rey League MVP at Bishop Montgomery and a four-year starter at USF. Last season she was head coach at St. Bernard. . . .


Oaks Christian junior kicker/punter Aidan Flintoft has committed to Stanford as a preferred walk on. . . .

Kevin Smith has resigned as football coach at Verbum Dei. . . .

Dominic Ellison is the new boys basketball coach at Morningside. . . .

Geoffrey Clayton will not be back as girls’ basketball coach at JSerra. . . .

Charlie Downey, a 6-foot-3 water polo player at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, has committed to Long Island. . . .

New Simi Valley basketball coach Craig Griffin, who coached for 20 years at Royal.
(Simi Valley)

Craig Griffin is leaving Royal after 20 years as basketball coach to become head coach at Simi Valley, his alma mater. . . .

Former St. John Bosco quarterback Quentin Davis is the new quarterback coach at Mission Viejo . . . .

Moorpark has named former Royal football coach Christian Dearborn to be its track and field coach. . . .

Kalib LaCount, the City Section basketball player of the year from King-Drew, has committed to East Carolina. . . .

Former Fairfax point guard Jamal Hartwell has committed to UC Riverside after playing for George Mason. . . .

Defensive back Christian Pierce from Rancho Cucamonga has committed to USC. . . .

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame junior guard Dusty Stromer has committed to Gonzaga. He was being recruited by UCLA. It’s a big pickup for Gonzaga. . . .

Former Loyola catcher Kevin Parada of Georgia Tech has hit a nation-leading 22 home runs. He will be a first-round pick in the amateur draft come July.


From the archives: Cody Schrier

Shortstop Cody Schrier and pitcher Gage Jump, both UCLA signees.
Shortstop Cody Schrier and pitcher Gage Jump, both UCLA signees, are top players for JSerra’s baseball team that begins its season on Saturday.
(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Cody Schrier was a four-year standout at JSerra who has made an immediate adjustment to college baseball, becoming a star leadoff hitter for UCLA as a freshman. He’s the latest former JSerra player to make an impact at UCLA.

He entered this past week leading UCLA in hitting with a .313 average as the starting shortstop. He’s showing off some power, too, with seven home runs.

Here’s a 2020 story about Schrier taking over at shortstop for JSerra.

Here’s a 2019 story about Schrier and his brother, Alex, who was a pitcher for Santa Margarita.


From the Los Angeles Times, an opinion story on how to rein in parents disrupting youth sports.

From the Los Angeles Times, a story on the Supreme Court hearing the case of a former high school football coach involving praying before a game.


From the San Jose Mercury News, a story on an 89-year-old high school coach finally retiring.

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Until next time...

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