Los Alamitos softball finds its offensive firepower, knocks off No. 1 Villa Park

LOS ALAMITOS — Facing the hottest pitcher on the No. 1-ranked softball team in Orange County didn’t appear to be most favorable match-up for Los Alamitos High’s scuffling offense on Saturday, May 1.

But the Griffins had plans for Arizona commit Sydney Somerndike and Villa Park, plenty of resolve and even a few base running surprises from Coach Rob Weil.

Oklahoma-bound Sophia Nugent belted a two-run home run and Malayna Terrones and Emma Haygood added back-to-back home runs as the No. 3 Griffins emerged from their hitting slump to defeat previously undefeated Villa Park 8-1 in a Savanna Showcase game at Los Alamitos.

  • Los Alamitos center fielder Erin Mendoza robs Villa Park’s Claire Duckworth of a home run in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Villa Park third baseman Mikayla Maher puts the tag on Los Alamitos’s Camryn Johnson only to have her be called safe in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Alamitos catcher Sophia Nugent, center, is congratulated after hitting a two-run home run against Villa Park in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Villa Park’s Claire Duckworth is congratulated after hitting a solo home run against Los Alamitos in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Villa Park starting pitcher Emma Haygood walks off the mound after being relieved in the sixth inning against Los Alamitos in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Alamitos shortstop Emma Sellers hauls in a short pop fly against Villa Park in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Alamitos catcher Sophia Nugent gets a low-five from head coach Rob Weil after hitting a two-run home run against Villa Park in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Alamitos pitcher Maline Anjali pitched a complete game against Villa Park, giving up only one run in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Alamitos’ Jazzy Santos slides into second base safe as Villa Park second baseman Andreya Flores can’t handle the throw in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Villa Park pitcher Sydney Somerndike cranks up to throw a pitch in th efirst inning against Los Alamitos in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Villa Park’s Courtney Alvarado is confused after being called out for running into Los Alamitos second baseman in the middle of a play in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Los Alamitos cathcer Sophia Nugent connects for a two-run home run against Villa Park in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Villa Park’s Andreya Flores celebrates hitting a double against Los Alamitos in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Villa Park outfielder Tessa Galvin, number 14, nearly collides with another player as she drops a bloop single by Los Alamitos’ Diamond Sefe in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

  • Villa Park outfielders Riley Sandvig, left, and Claire Duckworth, right, react after a home run hit by Los Alamitos Emma Haygood in a non-league softball game at Los Alamitos High Los Alamitos on Saturday, May 1, 2021. (Sam Gangwer, Contributing Photographer)

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Los Alamitos (11-4) lost 3-1 and 1-0 earlier this week to Edison and Crescenta Valley, respectively. The previous week, the Griffins fell to Pacifica and Huntington Beach, 3-2, and, 5-4, respectively.

“We’ve been playing some good quality teams and good pitchers and we just kind of hit the wall,” Weil said of the stretch. “Hitting is contagious, up and a down the lineup. One (hit) falls, and it seems like they all fall. Today, we had a game plan with this kid, who is very talented … and were able to connect on a few balls.”

Weil said the Griffins’ approach was to stay off Somerndike’s rise ball and force the junior to bring her pitchers lower in the zone.

“She’s a rise-ball pitcher,” Weil said. “We were very disciplined.”

In the fourth, Nugent belted a 1-1 pitch to right to give Los Alamitos a 3-0 lead. The senior drove in No. 9 batter Jules Ronquillo, who reached one batter earlier on a two-out bunt single.

Los Alamitos finished with 11 hits off Somerndike (13-1), including back-to-back shots by Terrones and Haygood in a four-run seventh. It was the first home runs of the season for the left-handed hitters.

Villa Park coach Terry Williams said Somerndike was bothered by a jammed finger on her pitching hand.

“I debated not pitching her at all,” he said. “Her rise ball wasn’t working for her. … but she battled through it and tried to give us a chance.”

Los Alamitos sophomore pitcher Anjali Maline (2-0) went the distance for the Griffins, allowing only a solo home run to sophomore Claire Duckworth with two outs in the fourth. Duckworth nearly homered in the second but center fielder Erin Mendoza robbed her of the homer with a running catch at the fence.

Weil also injected plenty of base running into the Griffins’ attack. With two out in the third, Diamond Sefe stole third on a fake bunt and scored the first run when the throw from the catcher sailed down the line.

After Haygood led off the sixth with a double, Mendoza followed with a bunt single and purposely rounded first aggressively to create a rundown, which led to pinch-runner Camryn Johnson scoring from second.

“We did get a little frustrated at first (about our offensive woes) but then we started to realize we’re in this together,” Nugent said. “We had a 6 a.m. practice recently and we worked on some things and fixed things.”

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Esperanza softball bolsters resume by defeating La Mirada but Emily Gomez injured

ANAHEIM — Esperanza High’s softball team didn’t waste any time Tuesday, April 6 showing it was ready to rebound for a tough loss last week.

The Aztecs also unexpectedly showed another dimension to their arsenal, which has already knocked off the No. 1-ranked team in the nation.

Esperanza scored three runs in the first inning and received a combined four-hitter in the circle from Emily Gomez and Brooke Perez en route to a 3-0 victory against visiting and well-regarded La Mirada.

Esperanza (4-1) plated three runs before La Mirada (4-3) recorded an out. Playing its first game since losing to Pacifica last week, the Aztecs opened the bottom of half of the first with doubles from freshman right fielder Taylor Shumaker, sophomore shortstop Sharyn Duncan and senior center fielder Hannah Coor and a run-scoring single from senior catcher Raquelle Ngue, the cleanup hitter.

.⁦@coor_hannah⁩ doing Hannah Coor stuff Esperanza 3-0 after 1st ⁦@OU_Softball🥎💯pic.twitter.com/Wb1RdSVWCK

— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) April 6, 2021

Ngue added a double in the second and finished 2 for 3.

The Oklahoma-bound Coor said a 3-0 loss last week to Pacifica sparked the Aztecs’ bats in the first inning.

“We were pretty flat the whole game (against Pacifica) so we just wanted to make sure we came out swinging this game and get a good win,” she said.

Gomez and Perez took care of the rest in the circle, though Gomez left unexpectedly in the fifth. With two outs in the inning, Gomez fielded a grounder back to the circle awkwardly. The senior, who pitched the Aztecs past former nationally No. 1-ranked Chino Hills, smiled afterward but walked gingerly off the field.

“She stepped in a hole out there — the hole pitchers make from their plant foot — and just rolled it (her ankle),” Esperanza coach Tunstall said. “I think it’s a good sign that she was able to walk on it. The real bad ones you can’t even put weight on it. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Gomez allowed only three hits — though Alyssa Campbell led off the second with a double that nearly cleared the fence. Gomez struck out six and walked one.

Perez, a junior, took over in the circle and showed that the Aztecs have some quality pitching depth. She only allowed an infield single off her glove and struck out three in 2 1/2 innings. Shumaker provided defensive support with a running catch in the sixth.

Final: ⁦@esprnzasoftball⁩ 3 ⁦@MatsSoftball⁩ 0 🥎💯@ocvarsitypic.twitter.com/YsUIFbbNSy

— Dan Albano (@ocvarsityguy) April 6, 2021

If Gomez can’t pitch Thursday against Santiago Corona, Tunstall said Perez will take the ball with freshman left fielder Mia Sanchez moving to the No. 2 pitcher spot.

“This is probably one of the best teams I’ve been on at Esperanza,” said Coor, a four-year varsity player. “I think we all mesh together very well. We all get along. There’s no drama. There’s good communication. We pick each other up.”

That certainly was the case Tuesday.

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Villa Park’s Sydney Somerndike throws perfect game, strikes out 18 against JSerra

Villa Park High’s Sydney Somerndike completed her quest for perfection on Monday, March 29.

The junior notched her first career perfect game, striking 18 batters in an 8-0 victory against visiting JSerra in a nonleague softball game.

What an awesome performance by Sydney Somerndike and her @VPSoftball teammates! @ocvarsity @ocvarsityguy @DrKenMiller1 @VPHSathletics @latsondheimer @CallMeEPJ pic.twitter.com/Jr1j7w8cNJ

— Autumn (@Autumn77427978) March 30, 2021

The Arizona commit nearly fired a no-hitter on Saturday at Pacifica but surrendered a two-run home run with one out in the seventh inning of a 7-2 triumph. Somerndike (4-0) said afterward that she has struggled to close out her chances for a no-hitter or perfect game but she changed that script Monday.

“I finally got my perfect game,” she said. “I was so relieved and excited. It was such a fun game.”

Somerndike was swarmed by her teammates afterward. She and the Spartans (4-0) play at Aliso Niguel on Thursday and play host to Kennedy on Friday.

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Villa Park’s Sydney Somerndike throws perfect game against JSerra

Villa Park High’s Sydney Somerndike completed her quest for perfection on Monday, March 29.

The junior notched her first career perfect game, striking 18 batters in an 8-0 victory against visiting JSerra in a nonleague softball game.

What an awesome performance by Sydney Somerndike and her @VPSoftball teammates! @ocvarsity @ocvarsityguy @DrKenMiller1 @VPHSathletics @latsondheimer @CallMeEPJ pic.twitter.com/Jr1j7w8cNJ

— Autumn (@Autumn77427978) March 30, 2021

The Arizona commit nearly fired a no-hitter on Saturday at Pacifica but surrendered a two-run home run with one out in the seventh inning of a 7-2 triumph. Somerndike (4-0) said afterward that she has struggled to close out her chances for a no-hitter or perfect game but she changed that script Monday.

“I finally got my perfect game,” she said. “I was so relieved and excited. It was such a fun game.”

Somerndike was swarmed by her teammates afterward. She and the Spartans (4-0) play at Aliso Niguel on Thursday and play host to Kennedy on Friday.

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


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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.”

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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

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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)

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


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  • 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)

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  • 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)

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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.

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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.

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‘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.”

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