Prep Rally: Revealing the players of the year in baseball and softball

Justin Lee of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame tops The Times' All-Star baseball team.
(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)
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Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. It’s awards time for baseball and softball.

Baseball honorees

Notre Dame pitcher Justin Lee delivers a pitch against Corona
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame pitcher Justin Lee is The Times’ player of the year.

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Right-handed pitcher Justin Lee of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame is The Times’ player of the year in baseball. He was 9-0 until losing in a regional playoff game after contributing two innings. His dominating form helped the Knights rise to No. 1 at the end of the regular season. Here’s a profile.

Here’s the All-Star baseball team.


The coach of the year is Matt Mowry of City Section Open Division champion Birmingham. Here’s the link.

Santa Margarita is No. 1 in The Times’ final top 25 rankings after winning the Trinity League title and Southern California Division I regional. Here’s the link.

Softball awards

Oaks Christian High School softball player of the year Anahi Arreola.
(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

Anahi Arreola of Oaks Christian delivered 20 home runs and 60 RBIs during her senior season, earning The Times’ player of the year honor in softball. Here’s the report.

Here’s the All-Star softball team.

The coach of the year is Tony Arduino from Garden Grove Pacifica. Here’s the report.

Here’s the final top 20 rankings from

Summer preview: Quarterbacks

Elijah Brown poses for a photo after a game.
(Luca Evans / For The Times)

There have been so many quarterback transfers during the offseason that using a pencil with an eraser is a must to keep track of the movement.

Call it the annual musical chairs at the most important position in football.

To start a new weekly summer preview of the high school football season position by position, let’s look at the quarterbacks who will be so important in deciding the top teams for 2023.

Everything starts with Elijah Brown of Santa Ana Mater Dei. He has been starting since his freshman season and is 29-1, a better record than three Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks at Mater Dei. Every season he has gotten better and there’s no reason to think his senior year won’t be his best.

Here’s a look at other quarterbacks to watch.

This coming week: Impact running backs.


It’s no secret the best Southland lacrosse talent comes from Orange County, an area teeming with private-school and club powerhouses.

But the game is starting to steadily spread throughout the city of Los Angeles, with kids more exposed to stick and ball from a younger age. And there were few better in any part of Southern California than Loyola’s Trent Turner, Loyola’s nimble senior midfielder committed to the University of Loyola Maryland.


Turner, also a basketball player at Loyola, broke the single-season Cubs program record for points with 102 and nearly led Loyola to an incredible comeback in the Southern Section Division 1 championship game against Foothill before falling 9-8. He’s been recognized as the L.A. County Player of the Year by the Los Angeles Lacrosse Coaches Assn.

“Just an unbelievably talented kid,” coach Jimmy Borell said in May.

—Luca Evans


The California Live basketball tournament begins this weekend in Orange County for boys teams with first games Friday.

Here’s the link to schedules and tickets.

A similar competition is going on in Northern California for girls.

As a tuneup, Redondo Union hosted a weekend tournament, and St. Bernard certainly showed off talent.


Sherman Oaks Notre Dame has a good group of incoming freshman and an outstanding junior guard in Angelino Mark.

Junior Antranik Balian of Pilibos should be one of the best small-school players.
Junior Antranik Balian of Pilibos should be one of the best small-school players. He averaged 27 points as a sophomore.

Pilibos in Los Angeles has one of the best small-school players in 6-foot-2 junior guard Antranik Balian, who averaged 27 points as a sophomore and was impressive at the War on the Floor tournament last week at Burbank.

Taft returns enough top players that it can be a contender to repeat as City Section Open Division champion.

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Gardena Serra senior cornerback Dakoda Fields has committed to USC. . . .

Santa Margarita senior girls’ water polo standout Hannah McClaskey has committed to Arizona State. . . .

Defensive lineman Kaho Tuihalamaka of Mater Dei has committed to Arizona. . . .

Eric Gonzalez is the new girls’ soccer coach at Westminster. . . .

Kevin Quach is the new girls’ basketball coach at West Covina. . . .

Former Campbell Hall basketball coach Steve Tolbert is the new head coach at La Salle. . . .

Collin Clarke, the pitcher of the year in the Trinity League from Santa Margarita, has committed to Oregon. That means he’ll join teammate Sammy Cova, another pitcher, with the Ducks. . . .

Greg Burnias has resigned as baseball coach at Paraclete. . . .

Trent Caraway of JSerra was chosen the Division 1 player of the year. Sophomore Diego Velazquez of Crespi was named the Division 2 player of the year. Here’s the link to All-CIF teams. . . .

Brynne Nally of Garden Grove Pacifica is the Southern Section Division 1 player of the year in softball. . . .

Alex Pladevega is no longer the boys’ basketball coach at Sun Valley Poly. The next coach will have a new gym to work with. . . .

Former Chatsworth athletic director Jonathan Sheriff is the new athletic director at Lake Balboa Prep. . . .

Cristina Garcia has resigned as athletic director at Granada Hills and will be athletic manager at Birmingham, making her the co-athletic director with Rick Prizant. . . .

Colony basketball coach Jerry De Fabiis has been hired as an assistant commissioner for the Southern Section focusing on basketball. He’s the first new hire for new commissioner Mike West. . . .

Isaiah Sherrard, a 6-foot-7 Oak Park graduate, has committed to Washington. . . .

Linebacker Xavier White, a graduate of Sierra Canyon, has committed to Central Michigan. He is the son of former Crespi and Cal running back Russell White. . . .

Quincy Reese, a starting guard for Crenshaw’s basketball team last season as a junior, was shot and killed on Saturday night while attending a party. He was 16. He had a 3.4 grade-point average and was set to be one of Crenshaw’s best players. . . .

Receiver-defensive back Kory Hall from Reseda Cleveland has committed to Colorado State. . . .

From the archives: Jared Jones

La Mirada pitcher Jared Jones delivers a pitch in 2020.
(Luis Sinco)

Jared Jones is considered one of the top pitching prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization after being a second-round draft pick in 2020 out of La Mirada High.

He’s throwing for the double-A affiliate Altoona Curve. The 21-year-old is 1-3 with a 2.21 ERA in nine games. He has 41 strikeouts in 40 2/3 innings.

He was part of The Times series, “Season Interrupted” about athletes whose senior seasons were cut short because of the pandemic. Here’s the interview from 2020.

Here’s a story from 2019 when Jones was The Times’ player of the year.


From the Los Angeles Times, a story on former Agoura standout Jonny DeLuca being called up by the Dodgers.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a story on former JSerra catcher Austin Hedges.

From the San Diego Union Tribune, a look at top high school quarterbacks this summer.


Vacation time

Prep Rally will be taking next week off, refreshing and revitalizing, and returns June 26.

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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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