Hi, and welcome to another edition of Prep Rally. My name is Eric Sondheimer. It’s championship weekend for Southern Section baseball and softball and City Section softball. And the City Section baseball playoffs begin. Let’s see possible story lines.

Trophy time

The Southern Section softball championships will be held Friday and Saturday at Bill Barber Park in Irvine. There’s lots to be excited about.

In Division 1, No. 1-seeded Orange Lutheran and pitcher Brianne Weiss get to face No. 2-seeded Garden Grove Pacifica and pitcher Brynne Nally in a rematch of a March 1 game won by Pacifica 3-0 and a March 29 game won by Orange Lutheran 5-1. Look for low scoring, bunts and attempts to find a way to score in Friday’s 7 p.m. final.

Here’s a report on semifinal wins.

Here’s the complete championship schedule for this weekend.

There’s probably no more emotional story line than in Division 2, where California somehow won two extra-inning games last week over 26 innings to reach the final for Jason Ramirez, the coach who has been battling ALS and coaching from a wheelchair. First there was a 7-5 win over Whittier Christian in 14 innings, then an 8-7 win over Valley View in 12 innings. Next up is the Saturday final against Gahr.

The City Section will hold its Open Division softball semifinals Tuesday, with No. 1-seeded Granada Hills hosting El Camino Real and No. 2-seeded Birmingham hosting defending champion Carson. The final is Saturday at 7 p.m. at Long Beach State.

In baseball, the Southern Section semifinals are set for Tuesday. In Division 1, Corona is hosting Huntington Beach and Orange Lutheran is playing Harvard-Westlake in a 6 p.m. game at Hart Park. Corona is 2-0 against Huntington Beach this season. Orange Lutheran is 2-1 against Harvard-Westlake. The championship game will be this weekend at Lake Elsinore’s Storm Stadium.

In Division 2, Jim Ozella is retiring after 25 seasons as head coach at Hart and his team hosts Arcadia in a semifinal game on Tuesday.

In Division 3, longtime South Torrance coach Grady Sain must figure out how to get his team past St. John Bosco in the semifinals. His teams have won multiple Pioneer League titles. Caden Lewis has 41 hits and has been having a huge senior season. Moorpark has made the semifinals under first-year coach Aaron Garcia and will host Ayala.

In Division 4, Camarillo keeps winning for first-year coach TJ Foreman behind fireballer Boston Bateman and will host Culver City. St. Francis continues to surprise under coach Shaun Kort and will play at Ontario Christian.

In Division 5, 35-year-old head coach Jordan Sigman has Santa Monica in the semifinals. He used to pitch for Loyola High. Santa Monica hasn’t won a title since the early 1970s. Starting pitcher Jackson Klein and reliever Tony Ponce have been key. Santa Monica will host Oxnard Pacifica.

Granada Hills (27-2) is seeded No. 1 in the City Section Open Division playoffs that begin Tuesday with play-in games. The quarterfinals will be Friday, the semifinals will be May 21 at Pepperdine and the championship game is May 25 at Dodger Stadium.

Baseball rewind

Trent Grindlinger (left), Freddie Angiuli and Phillip Kang celebrate walk-off double for Huntington Beach.

(Nick Koza)

Quarterfinal playoff action saw lots of top performances. Huntington Beach got a walk-off hit in the eighth inning to take down Santa Margarita 3-2. Here’s the report on the Oilers’ dramatic victory.

Harvard-Weslake’s Duncan Marsten came through with his arm and bat in a 5-4 win over San Dimas. Here’s the report. Billy Carlson hit two home runs in Corona’s 6-4 win over Aquinas. Josiah Hartshorn had a three-run home run and five RBIs in Orange Lutheran’s 9-4 win over La Mirada.

Arcadia stunned No. 1-seeded Westlake 2-1 in Division 2. Hart pitchers Troy Cooper and Ian Edwards kept on throwing scoreless ball in a 3-0 win over Arlington.

Comic book hero

Corona catcher Josh Springer has endured plenty of bumps and bruises as a four-year starter behind the plate.

Corona catcher Josh Springer has endured plenty of bumps and bruises as a four-year starter behind the plate.

(Nick Koza)

For four years, Josh Springer has never missed a game as the starting catcher for Corona through all the bumps and bruises that a catcher receives. He’s also called the pitches.

He’s Corona’s superhero, the one player the top-ranked Panthers cannot lose.

Here’s a profile on the Oregon commit with a great future in baseball.


Standout pitcher Addison Moorman of Granada Hills.

Standout pitcher Addison Moorman of Granada Hills.

(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

California High in Whittier gets the award for survival in winning softball games in 14 and 12 innings to advance to the Division 2 championship game.

Pacifica gets the comeback award for advancing to the Division 1 final. Remember there was a little panic after the team lost consecutive games, then lost its No. 1 ranking. A little bit of adversity was good. Pacifica hasn’t lost since and is back to defend its championship won last season.

Granada Hills has been dominating City Section opponents, and don’t think for a minute that the Highlanders will be taking it easy this week as they try to win the City title. The players still haven’t forgotten last year’s final against Carson when they came back from a 10-0 deficit, tied the score 10-10, only to lose 12-11. They face El Camino Real on Tuesday in the semifinals.

Track and field

Sophomore JJ Harel of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame won the Southern Section Division 3 high jump with a record height.

Sophomore JJ Harel of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame won the Southern Section Division 3 high jump by clearing a record height of 7 feet, 1/4 inch.

(Craig Weston)

The Southern Section track and field championships featured a 7-foot high jumper, some magnificent times in the 1,600 and Devin Bragg of Los Alamitos emerging as the fastest sprinter around.

Sophomore JJ Harel of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame marked himself as a true phenom, clearing 7-0.25 in the high jump, a Division 3 record. The fact he’s still growing and overcoming growing pains tells you a lot about what his future might bring.

Here’s a look at the Southern Section championships.

The Masters Meet will take place Saturday at Moorpark High.

The City Section championships are set for Friday at El Camino College. Here’s a look at top performances from the prelims.


Irvine University won the Southern Section Open Division tennis championship. Here’s the report.

Sherman Oaks Notre Dame won its first Division 3 title. The Knights and Murrieta Valley finished in a tie. The Knights won via the tiebreaker on most games won.


Loyola players celebrate after beating Mira Costa Saturday in the Southern Section Division 1 final Saturday.

Loyola players celebrate after a 25-21, 25-22, 25-21 victory over Mira Costa Saturday in the Southern Section Division 1 final.

(Steve Galluzzo)

Loyola proved it is the No. 1 volleyball team in Southern California, if not the nation, with a sweep of Mira Costa in the Southern Section Division 1 final.

It was a big weekend for volleyball championships, with Chatsworth needing five sets to defeat Eagle Rock in the City Section Open Division final.

Here’s the roundup on all the championships.

The regional playoffs begin this week. Here’s the link to pairings.


Austin Hicks led St. Margaret's to the Division 1 lacrosse championship.

Austin Hicks led St. Margaret’s to the Division 1 lacrosse championship.

(Nick Koza)

St. Margaret’s won its first Division 1 boys lacrosse championship with a dramatic 10-9 victory over Loyola. St. Margaret’s finished 20-2 and was led by Duke-bound Austin Hicks.

The score was tied 9-9 until Johnny Iavarone scored the go-head goal with under two minutes left.

Hicks finished with five goals.

Freshman Tripp King had four goals for Loyola. Goalkeeper Eben O’Brien had 12 saves for St. Margaret’s.

In girls’ lacrosse, Marlborough ended Foothill’s reign as Division 1 champion and brought the championship trophy to Los Angeles County with a 14-8 win. Foothill had won three straight titles since the introduction of lacrosse in the Southern Section and had won 68 of 69 games against Southern Section opponents.

Marlborough has risen quickly after winning the Division 3 championship in 2022. The team went 18-1 this season with its only loss to Foothill. Sophia Cuteno scored eight goals for Marlborough.


Irvine University won the Southern Section Open Division tennis championship with an 11-7 win over Corona del Mar. It’s the third straight title for University, which had three freshmen making major contributions.

JSerra defeated Brentwood 12-6 to win the Division 1 championship. Foothill defeated Flintridge Prep 10-8 in Division 2. The tightest competition came in Division 3, where Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Murrieta Valley finished tied but the Knights won via tiebreaker (most games won).

Banning safety Steven Perez will play the first month of the football season as a 16-year-old senior.

Banning safety Steven Perez will play the first month of the football season as a 16-year-old senior.

(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

With spring football under way and the weather beginning to heat up, there’s a growing feeling that change is in the air when it comes to City Section football.

Birmingham’s reign as the four-time Open Division champion and holder of a 42-game winning streak against City opponents could come to an end. For the first time since 2018, the Patriots will enter this fall without a top candidate as the best player in the City Section. The last three players of the year from Birmingham are in college — Mason White (Oregon State), Arlis Boardingham (Florida) and Peyton Waters (Washington).

It opens the way for someone to step forward and become the player to help end Birmingham’s domination.

Here’s a look at potential player of the year candidates.

There will be seven on seven tournaments on Saturday at Long Beach Millikan and San Juan Hills. New Mater Dei coach Raul Lara is scheduled to have his team playing at Millikan.

The Coliseum has made it official: Banning will play San Pedro on Oct. 18 at the Coliseum with a special halftime show to be announced.


Members of Santa Margarita surf team includes some multisport athletes.

Members of Santa Margarita surf team includes some multisport athletes.

(Santa Margarita)

Santa Margarita completed its surf season with lots of students who played other sports.

Among the Eagles’ surfers were students who also played soccer, basketball, water polo and ran for cross country and track teams.

Coach Antonio Villanueva said it takes lots of sacrifices from the students and their parents to participate.

Oak Park speech

Former Oak Park basketball player JD Slajchert, now an author and motivational speaker, has been invited to be an honorary keynote speaker at graduation for the Oak Park class of 2024.

Slajchert graduated in 2013 and his two youngers brothers were also standout basketball players for the Eagles. He will be honoring a young boy who died at age 10 and would have been part of this year’s Oak Park class. Slajchert met him in high school, stayed in touch and the two inspired each other.

Graduation is May 23.


The City Section golf championships will be held Wednesday at Harding Golf Course. Palisades and Granada Hills should battle it out for the team title. Turner Osswald of El Camino Real won the title as a sophomore and will be one of the contenders for the individual title.

The Southern Section will hold team divisional championships Monday and individual championships Thursday. Teddy Vigna of Dos Pueblos shot a 9-under 61 at Los Robles last week at the Northern regional.

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Notes . . .

Trent Perry of Harvard-Westlake has committed to UCLA.

Trent Perry of Harvard-Westlake has committed to UCLA.

(Nick Koza)

Trent Perry, The Times’ player of the year from Harvard-Westlake, announced his commitment to UCLA and coach Mick Cronin after previously being committed to USC when Andy Enfield was coach. . . .

Quarterback TJ Lateef of Orange Lutheran has committed to Nebraska. . . .

Outfielder Nolan Caira of Garden Grove Pacifica has committed to Concordia. . . .

Long Beach Poly is looking for a new baseball coach after making a coaching change. First-year coach Martin Rodriguez will not be back. . . .

Pitcher Ryan Iveson of Mater Dei has committed to Chapman. . . .

Two top junior girls water polo players from Southern Section champion Orange Lutheran have committed to UCLA and USC, respectively. Jailynn Robinson will become a Bruin and Kate Sloman will become a Trojan. . . .

Edison pitcher Phil Economos has committed to the University of Redlands. . . .

Brendan Holmes is the new boys basketball coach at Fountain Valley. . . .

Linebacker Sirr Bible of Long Beach Millikan has committed to San Jose State. . . .

Zac Gibson, Trinity League champion from Santa Margarita in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200, has committed to Cal. . . .

Eddie Escandon is no longer the baseball coach at La Cañada after one season. . . .

Junior Brooklyn Reyes from Garden Grove Pacifica has committed to Fairleigh Dickinson for softball. . . .

Matt Wilson has been dismissed as baseball coach at Thousand Oaks. . . .

St. Bernard has hired former Gardena Serra basketball coach Bernard McCrumby as its new head coach. He’s a St. Bernard graduate. . . .

Saugus grad David Smith and Huntington Beach grad TJ DeFalco have been named to the U.S. Olympic volleyball team in Paris. . . .

Santa Margarita won state swimming championships for boys and girls for the second straight year.

From the archives: PJ Ize-Iyamu

Chaminade's Patrick Ize-Iyamu Jr win the 100 at Arcadia Invitational in 2021.

Chaminade’s Patrick Ize-Iyamu Jr win the 100 at Arcadia Invitational in 2021.

(Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times)

Former Chaminade sprinter PJ Ize-Iyamu won the Pac-12 100 meters title competing for Oregon, running 10.10. In second place was former Servite sprinter Max Thomas of USC. It’s a big accomplishment for someone who won the 100 meters at the Arcadia Invitational in 2021 and took the 200 in 2022.

Here’s an interview from 2021.

Here’s a story from 2021 discussing his legacy.


From the Washington Post, a story on the top baseball prospect from Virginia.

From the Seattle Times, a story on the push to make girls flag football a sanctioned sport in Washington.

From the Los Angeles Times, a story on former Windward and Lakers guard Darius Morris, who died on May 2.

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 eric.sondheimer@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latsondheimer.

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