PGF cancels national championships for older divisions, All-American high school game


Support our high school sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber. Subscribe now


Premier Girls Fastpitch on Sunday canceled its 18- and 16-and-under national travel softball championships and its All-American high school game — all scheduled for Orange County this summer — because of the coronavirus.

PGF president/CEO Dan Hay hoped the last several weeks that the tournaments scheduled for July 24-Aug. 1 and the national all-star game planned for Aug. 1 could be played but the recent surge of coronavirus cases and the suspension of youth sports in the state sealed the fate of the high-profile events.

Hay made the announcement with a heavy heart. The PGF nationals have grown into a festival for the softball community and attracted national television exposure for players and teams.

Pacifica’s Alyssa Brito (Oregon) and Los Alamitos’ Kennedi Houshmandzadeh (LSU) were selected to the All-American game.

“These kids aren’t going to have these life-long memories,” Hay said. “We looked into relocating it to another part of the country and every other part of the country is having problems. It’s too uncertain. … There was no way to do it.”

PGF hasn’t yet canceled the second week of its championships — for the 14, 12 and 10 age divisions — but Hay isn’t optimistic those events scheduled for Aug. 2-9 will be played. An announcement is expected on July 19.

“I don’t think there’s a chance,” Hay said of the likelihood of the tournaments being played.

Last season between its two sessions, the PGF Nationals hosted about 635 teams from across the nation.

The tournaments were viewed as the crown jewel of the highly-competitive travel softball season.

“The cancellation is a such a huge blow for our softball season,” said Coach Alan Caouette of California Cruisers and Aliso Niguel High. “All year we look forward to playing in this prestigious event. … In a year of chaos, it would been outstanding to finish with this event.”

Hay said the PGF trimmed the number of teams this year to about 550 in hopes of managing the schedule amid the pandemic and limiting crowds.

But the number of coronavirus cases in Orange County have risen and youth sports statewide have been postponed by the California Department of Public Heath.

Hay, however, believes the softball games should be allowed to go on.

“I believe that these kids should be able to go out and play games and allow the organizations to social distance responsibly,” said Hay, also the co-head softball at Marina. “Baseball and softball, it’s pretty easy to social distance.”

Hay said his organization has been seriously impacted financially by the cancellations but will be “fine” and “ready for 2021.” PGF applied for and received funds through the Payroll Protect Plan, he said.

The cities of Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley and Irvine also will be impacted financially by the cancellation of the tournaments.

“We bring over 50,000 people into Southern California during those two weeks,” Hay said. “The money that they’re spending in restaurants and hotels and stores and gas stations is going to be sorely missed by these communities.”

Read more about PGF cancels national championships for older divisions, All-American high school game This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

2019-20 athletes & coaches of the year, All-County teams, Outstanding Seniors

A look back at the OCVarsity award winners for the 2019-20 high school sports season.

Athletes and coaches of the year and All-County teams were selected for the fall and winter sports. For the spring sports, which had their season cut short by COVID-19, the Register chose an Outstanding Senior for each sport.

OCVarsity 2020 Athletes & Coaches of the Year page

FALL SPORTS

FOOTBALL

Offensive Player of the Year: Bryce Young, Mater Dei

Defensive Player of the Year: Clark Phillips III, La Habra

Coach of the Year: Nick Karavedas, Sunny Hills

All-County team: First Team Offense

All-County team: First Team Defense

All-County teams: Second Team and Third Team

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Player of the Year: Mia Tuaniga, Mater Dei

Coach of the Year: Isaac Owens, Esperanza

All-County team

BOYS CROSS COUNTY

Runner of the Year: Anthony Grover, JSerra

Coach of the Year: Craig Dunn, Dana Hills

All-County team

GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY

Runner of the Year: Carly Corsinita, Capistrano Valley

Coach of the Year: Ken Chai, El Toro

All-County team

GIRLS GOLF

Golfer of the Year: Sherilyn Villaneuva, Troy

Coach of the Year: Bruce Loman, Sage Hill

All-County team

GIRLS TENNIS

Player of the Year: Kaytlin Taylor, Huntington Beach

Coach of the Year: Natasha Schottland, Portola

All-County team

BOYS WATER POLO

Player of the Year: Tanner Pulice, Corona del Mar

Coach of the Year: Logan Powell, San Clemente

All-County team

 

WINTER SPORTS

BOYS BASKETBALL

Player of the Year: Devin Askew, Mater Dei

Coach of the Year: D’Cean Bryant, Fountain Valley

All-County team

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Player of the Year: Asia Avinger, Rosary

Coach of the Year: Jimmy Valverde, Esperanza

All-County team

BOYS SOCCER

Player of the Year: Uriel Sanchez, Servite

Coach of the Year: Jon Spencer, Servite

All-County team

GIRLS SOCCER

Player of the Year: Samantha Williams, JSerra

Coach of the Year: Pat Rossi, Los Alamitos

All-County team

GIRLS WATER POLO

Player of the Year: Emma Lineback, Laguna Beach

Coach of the Year: Rory Bevins, Rosary

All-County team

BOYS WRESTLING

Wrestler of the Year: Aaron Nagao, Esperanza

Coach of the Year: Dane Valdez, Calvary Chapel

All-County team

GIRLS WRESTLING

Wrestler of the Year: Aine Drury, Westminster

All-County team

 

SPRING SPORTS

Outstanding Seniors

Baseball: Jonny Long, Orange

Softball: Madi Simon, Beckman

Boys Swimming: Ryan Abdollahi, Dana Hills

Girls Swimming: Ella Ristic,  Santa Margarita

Boys Track & Field: Isaac Korn, Trabuco Hills

Girls Track & Field: Sophia Hartwell, Orange Lutheran

Boys Volleyball: Niko Colburn, Huntington Beach

Boys Tennis: Jake Huarte, Mater Dei

Boys Golf: Taehoon Song, Anaheim Discovery Christian

Boys Lacrosse: Andrew Cumming, Foothill

Girls Lacrosse: Ashley Stokes, Foothill

Read more about 2019-20 athletes & coaches of the year, All-County teams, Outstanding Seniors This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

OCVarsity 2020 Athletes of the Year special section

The Register wraps up a year of excellence in high school sports by selecting the Orange County Athletes of the Year.

The honorees are featured in a special section that includes lists of all of the athletes and coaches who received OCVarsity honors in 2019-20. The section is included in Sunday’s edition of the Register.

There is also an interactive online version of the section that can be found here.

A link to our page for the 2020 OCVaristy Athlete & Coach Awards.

This year, because of COVID-19, the Register couldn’t host its annual banquet for all of the year’s award winners, but the OCVarsity staff congratulates the honorees, including Rosary’s Asia Avinger, who received the Trinity League Athlete of the Year award from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.

 

To read the individual stories, click on the athlete names below.

Male Athlete of the Year

Bryce Young, Mater Dei


Mater Dei High quarterback Bryce Young announced his commitment to attend Alabama on social media on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

 

Female Athlete of the Year

Asia Avinger, Rosary


Rosary’s Asia Avinger is one of the Orange County Register’s 2020 Athletes of the Year. The San Clemente High School athlete committed to play basketball at San Diego State. Photographed in Anaheim, CA on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

 

Male Outstanding Competitor

Lance Keneley, Mission Viejo


Mission Viejo High School’s Lance Keneley is one of the Orange County Register’s 2020 Athletes of the Year. Keneley has committed to play football at Stanford. Photographed in Anaheim, CA on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Female Outstanding Competitor

Ella Gardiner, San Clemente


San Clemente athlete Ella Gardiner is one of the Orange County Register’s 2020 Athletes of the Year. Gardiner excelled in basketball and volleyball.  Photographed in Anaheim, CA on Thursday, May 14, 2020. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Read more about OCVarsity 2020 Athletes of the Year special section This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

Orange County athletes speak out on social media against racism in wake of George Floyd death


Support our high school sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber. Subscribe now


  • Mater Dei’s Devin Askew is the Orange County boys basketball player of the year for the 2019-20 season. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

  • Twin brothers Cassius, left, and Caine Savage on the football field at Western High School in Anaheim on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. The brothers signed letters of intent with San Diego State and Utah. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Sound
    The gallery will resume inseconds
  • Pitcher, Kylee Magee of Canyon is named to the 2019 Orange County All-County softball team. Magee is shown in Irvine on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Mater Dei Monarchs wide receiver Kyron Ware-Hudson (10) points to the sky after making a catch in the end zone for a touchdown against the St. John Bosco Braves during the first half of the 2019 CIF Southern Section Division 1 High School Football Championship game at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif. on Saturday November 30, 2019. (Photo by Raul Romero Jr, Contributing Photographer)

of

Expand

Protests at community parks, in front of government buildings and on city streets aren’t the only places in Southern California that young people are expressing their feelings about the death of George Floyd, racism and equality in America.

Some of Orange County’s most well-known high school athletes have made their voices heard on social media since the unarmed Floyd died in Minneapolis at the hands of police on May 25.

Rosary point guard Asia Avinger, The Register’s player of the year in girls basketball for 2019-20, has been among the most vocal on her Instagram account.

The San Diego State signee recently shared with her more than 10,000 followers a video of a young girl tearful saying, “I could die from the color of my skin.”

“There is so much hate in the world that we live in and it’s so horrific that even children are starting to understand how cruel the real world is,” Avinger wrote on the post that included the hashtag BLACKLIVESMATTER.

“There is so much hurt, pain and anger that we are feeling due to discrimination and racism.

“It shouldn’t matter the color of our skin, we should be treated with respect and equality. … We need CHANGE and I pray everyday that things get better.”

Mater Dei point guard Devin Askew, The Register’s boys basketball player of the year this past season, posted a photo this week that looked like himself in a shirt that read, “I Can’t Breathe”, a rallying crying at many protests for Floyd.

Floyd’s death, while in police custody, has sparked nationwide unrest.

“We are all equal!” the Kentucky-bound Askew wrote to his more than 78,000 followers on Instagram. “We are one! Together we fight for what is right.”

Western All-County wide receiver/cornerback Caine Savage also encouraged unity in a post on Instagram on Wednesday.

“We are BLACK MEN! We build. We don’t tear down other BLACK MEN!” the Utah signee wrote to his more than 3,000 followers. “All too often, we men find it easier to criticize each other instead of building each other up. With all the negativity going around, let’s do something positive!”

Canyon All-County softball pitcher Kylee Magee shared on her Instagram stories a quote from UCLA softball’s Aaliyah Jordan posted to the Pac-12 Conference social media account.

“My blackness is not a joke and not something that will be ignored. If you can’t see that then there’s a problem,” the quote read.

Numerous Orange County athletes, including New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (San Clemente), posted black screens to their Instagram accounts Tuesday as part of #BlackOutTuesday, a social media trend and sign of solidarity against police brutality against African Americans.

Mater Dei wide receiver and Oregon commit Kyron Ware-Hudson posted a video to his Instagram stories of a peaceful protest in front of police and a quote from Colorado Rockies baseball player Ian Desmond.

“When you can’t say, ‘Black Lives Matter’ … To me, that’s you saying my life doesn’t matter. That’s what I hear and I can’t change that,” the quote from Desmond read.

Read more about Orange County athletes speak out on social media against racism in wake of George Floyd death This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

Orange County athletes speak out on social media about racism, equality in wake of George Floyd death

Protests at community parks, in front of government buildings and on city streets aren’t the only places in Southern California that young people are expressing their feelings about the death of George Floyd and equality in America.

Some of Orange County’s most well-known high athletes also have made their voices heard on social media since the unarmed Floyd died in Minneapolis at the hands of police on May 25.

Rosary point guard Asia Avinger, The Register’s player of the year in girls basketball, has been among the most vocal on her Instgram account.

The San Diego State signee recently shared with her more than 10,000 followers a video of a young girl tearful saying, “I could die from the color of my sign.”

“There is so much hate in the world that we live in and it’s so horrific that even children are starting to understand how cruel the real world is,” Avinger wrote on the post that included the hashtag BLACKLIVESMATTER. “There is so much hurt, pain and anger that we are feeling due to discrimination and racism.

“It shouldn’t mater the color of our skin, we should be treated with respect and equality. … We need CHANGE and I pray everyday that things get better.”

Mater Dei point guard Devin Askew, The Register’s boys basketball player of the year, posted a photo this week that looked like himself in a shirt that read, “I Can’t Breathe”, a rallying crying at many protests for Floyd.

“We are all equal,” the Kentucky-bound Askew wrote to his more than 78,000 followers on Instgram. “We are one! Together we fight for what is right.”

Western All-County wide receiver/cornerback Caine Savage also encouraged unity in a post on Wednesday.

“We are BLACK MEN! We build. We don’t tear down other BLACK MEN,” the Utah signee wrote to his more than 3,000 Instagram followers. “All too often, we men find it easier to criticize each other instead of building each other up. With all the negative going around, let’s do something positive.”

Canyon All-County softball pitcher Kylee Magee shared on her Instgram stories a quote from UCLA softball’s Aaliyah Jordan posted to the Pac-12 Conference Instagram account.

“My blackness is not a joke and not something that will be ignored. If you can’t see that then there’s a problem,” the quote read.

Numerous Orange County athletes, including New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold, posted black screens to their Instagram accounts Tuesday as part of #BlackOutTuesday, a social media trend and sign of solidarity against police brutality against African Americans.

Mater Dei wide receiver and Oregon commit Kyron Ware-Hudson posted a video to his Instagram stories of a peaceful protest in front of police and a quote from Colorado Rockies baseball player Ian Desmond.

“When you can’t say, ‘Black Lives Matter’ … To me, that’s you saying my life doesn’t matter. That’s what I hear and I can’t change that,” the quote read.

Read more about Orange County athletes speak out on social media about racism, equality in wake of George Floyd death This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

‘Game Ready’ reality softball series dives deep into travel ball circuit, college recruiting

Miss the action and drama of the softball season?

Curious about the pressure-filled journey toward earning a college scholarship?

Want to listen to new Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady talk about the lessons of softball?

If so, the recently-released, Orange County-produced travel ball series “Game Ready” on YouTube might make compelling viewing during the coronavirus shutdown.

Beckman softball coach Lou Simon, also a veteran from the film and television industry, created the reality series that gives viewers an inside-look at a past season of the Orange County Batbusters and Explosion elite travel teams.

The series heavily covers college recruiting but also covers topics such as handling pressure, making sacrifices and racism.

“We’re very blessed to take two of the best teams in the country,” Simon said. “These stories come directly from these girls’ voices. … It’s pretty authentic.”

Narrated by former Orange Lutheran and Canyon standout Miranda Stoddard, the series released its sixth of seven episodes on Thursday, April 23. The final episode is scheduled for next week.

Stoddard is a now a freshman at Kentucky, where she earned SEC freshman of the week last month.

The series features former Huntington Beach standout Jadelyn Allchin, now a starter at Washington, and Maya Brady, Brady’s niece who played at Oaks Christian and now stars at UCLA as a freshman.

Tom Brady debuts in the episode No. 4.

The series also includes Simon’s daughter, Madi, a senior at Beckman headed to Oregon State, former Mission Viejo catcher Terra McGowan, now at Oregon and Capistrano Valley’s Giulia Koutsoyanopulos, a senior bound for Arizona.

“All these kids are going to be playing (at) Power Five (conferences),” Simon said. “I hope that people get inspired by these girls and their quest to do great at what they do. … It’s a grind. It can take some hard work but just pursue it. Don’t quit at the slightest challenge.”

The series also includes appearances by late Pacifica coach Mark Campbell, who coached with the Batbusters

Simon collaborated with producer Richard Martin on the project and also hired a camera crew. But the Hollywood veteran also filmed much of the series and edits the project.

It was a labor of the love for Simon, who has extensive experience as a stuntman, stuntman coordinator, technical advisor, writer and second unit director. “Game Ready” now joins his list of credits that includes Fear of the Walking Dead, Without a Trace and Star Trek.

“It was a quest,” he said. “I’ve really focused my efforts, when I’m not stunt coordinating or doing second unit directing, on this sport. … I see such a huge potential in there. I’m just trying to get Hollywood educated to the sport and help the sport grow in different ways.”

Powered by WPeMatico

Los Alamitos softball coach Rob Weil heartbroken season ends for his nationally top-ranked team

Los Alamitos softball coach Rob Weil knows his program isn’t easy for players and shares that from the start.

As the leader of one of the top teams in Southern California, Weil demands a lot in practice, weight training and team functions.

And there’s a difficult, internal competition to earn coveted varsity spots, a journey that easily can begin on the junior varsity level for freshmen.

But players commit to the rigors because of the reward often waiting for them at the end of the season.

This spring, however, there will be no rewards because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I feel really bad for my team because of how hard they worked and how much they prepared from Day 1 of school to get to the point where we were,” Weil said. “It’s a shame it had to end like this. … It’s heart-wrenching.”

For Los Alamitos and schools from across California, the ending arrived Friday with the CIF State and all sections canceling the spring playoffs this year because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

One day earlier, most districts in Orange County, including Los Alamitos Unified, closed their campuses for the remainder of this school year to focus on distance learning or online studies.

The Griffins were enjoying a stellar spring. Not only were they 10-0, they were ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to the MaxPreps poll last updated March 20.

Los Alamitos also appeared to be a legitimate threat for two-time defending Division 1 champion Norco, which featured star pitchers Sarah Willis and Stevie Hansen but a retooled offense.

“We didn’t really get a chance to fight for that (No. 1 ranking) and compete for that top honor,” Weil said. “We thought we had a team that could compete with anyone out on the field this year and we showed it in Loughlin (at the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions).”

Los Alamitos stormed to the tournament title March 7 in Nevada and had the next week off before the coronavirus shuttered Orange County schools.

Weil said his next task will be writing his players a letter about their season. He said it won’t be easy, especially when it comes his seniors who have committed to the program.

Weil recalls how standout Ali Belarde started her high school career on junior varsity but worked hard to become a “superstar” as a senior. And he watched other seniors such as Carly Robbins, Jamie Sellers and pitcher Tyler Denhart persevere to emerge as key players on varsity.

“It’s my kids. It’s my family,” Weil said of his players. “When you see them distraught or you see them disappointed, you feel for them. … It’s unfortunate but things happen for a reason in a life. You got to accept it and go on with it.”

Read more about Los Alamitos softball coach Rob Weil heartbroken season ends for his nationally top-ranked team This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

Sophia Nugent, Jamie Sellers power Los Alamitos softball past Crescenta Valley for Dave Kops TOC title

Sophia Nugent belted a three-run home run and Jamie Sellers added a solo homer to help power Los Alamitos’ top-ranked softball team past Crescenta Valley 6-2 in the finals of the prestigious Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, Ariz. on Saturday night.

Carly Robbins added two hits and Ali Belarde had a triple for Los Alamitos (10-0), which stormed to the tournament championship by going 5-0.

The Oklahoma-committed Nugent lunched her home run in the top of the fourth to give the Griffins a 4-0. Sellers followed with her solo homer in the fifth to extend the lead to 5-0.

In the semifinals, Los Alamitos defeated Ironwood Ridge of Arizona 4-2 behind a complete game and six strikeouts by pitcher Tyler Denhart.

Crescenta Valley (10-1) beat Mater Dei 4-0 in the other semifinal.

Read more about Sophia Nugent, Jamie Sellers power Los Alamitos softball past Crescenta Valley for Dave Kops TOC title This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

Mater Dei softball stuns national No. 1 Norco to join Los Alamitos in semifinals of Dave Kops TOC

Mater Dei’s softball team didn’t let the upset escape this time.

The Monarchs defeated nationally top-ranked Norco 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the Dave Kops Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, Ariz. on Friday night, claiming the upset that narrowly eluded them about a week ago in Chino Hills.

Mater Dei lost to the Cougars 5-4 at their showcase on Feb. 27.

The Monarchs are the first team this spring to beat Norco (9-1), the two-time defending CIF-SS Division 1 champion.

Mater Dei advanced to the semifinals of the TOC and will face Crescenta Valley on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Mohave High.

Los Alamitos defeated Villa Park, 7-5, in another quarterfinal to reach the semifinals against Ironwood Ridge of Arizona in another 1:30 p.m. game.

The championship is scheduled for 8 p.m.

 

Read more about Mater Dei softball stuns national No. 1 Norco to join Los Alamitos in semifinals of Dave Kops TOC This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

Powered by WPeMatico

Mater Dei athletic director Tia Meza accepts front office position with Arizona Coyotes

Mater Dei athletic director Tia Meza has resigned and accepted a front office position with the Arizona Coyotes of the NHL, she said Friday.

Meza, in her fourth year as athletic director at her alma mater, said she will serve as the Coyotes’ vice president of corporate partnerships.

“I’m excited about the new adventure and new opportunities … (and) new challenges,” she said at the CIF-SS Open Division boys and girls basketball finals at Long Beach State. “(I’ll) miss home. Mater Dei is home, and has been.”

Meza was a star softball pitcher for the school who went to become an All-American at Washington.

As athletic director, she oversaw Mater Dei capturing two national championships in football (2017-18), a powerhouse girls volleyball program and the success of Orange County athlete of the year Kelli Godin.

Meza also was a key figure in the Trinity League hosting media days for baseball, softball, basketball and football and creating a football showcase event.

Before becoming athletic director at Mater Dei, she served as director of admissions marketing and media relations and coached softball at Mater Dei. Her softball team captured the CIF-SS Division 1 title.

With Arizona, she will reunite with former Mater Dei principal Patrick Murphy, now president of business operations for the organization.

Meza’s last day at Mater Dei will be March 13. She will be replaced by Geri Campeau, the school’s former basketball coach who has been a vice principal at the school.

Read more about Mater Dei athletic director Tia Meza accepts front office position with Arizona Coyotes This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. SaddleBack Valley Shredding Service

Powered by WPeMatico