SoCal/NorCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s SoCal/NorCal players of the week are shown in action from last season — Kelly McGuigan from St. Ignatius (San Francisco) & Rene Lopez from Granite Hills (Porterville). Photos: Prep2Prep.com & Nayirah Dosu / recorderonline.com.

By this time next week, a lot of spring games may be cancelled by the likely spread of the coronavirus, but for now we’ve had plenty of games to go through to find this week’s four honorees — two each for baseball and softball. They represent the communities of Porterville, San Juan Capistrano, San Francisco and Vista and we’re proud to go over their accomplishments, including one with back-to-back no-hitters.

We hope you enjoy this free story on Cal-Hi Sports.com. For our State Top 25 rankings packages for baseball & softball (regular season starting this week) plus state record updates as they arise plus more exclusive content, please check out our Gold Club membership today. If you’re not a member, CLICK HERE.

Note: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate anyone, email markjtennis@gmail.com. We pick the winners on Monday nights.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Rene Lopez (Granite Hills, Porterville) Sr.

For our Northern California Baseball Player of the Week, we get our nominee from the “Milestones” feature on the CIF Central Section web site of longtime Cal-Hi Sports friend and contributor Bob Barnett, who sends us just to the southwest of Sequoia National Park on Highway 65 and just southeast of Visalia where we find a pitcher that so far this season has seen a lot of zeros on his stat sheet, but the kind of zeros that make the Grizzlies’ faithful mighty happy.

Granite Hills only had one game last week and Lopez pitched a gem as he was a walk away from a perfect game after throwing a no-hitter with nine strikeouts in a 14-0 victory over Farmersville.

Lopez is being honored for last week’s performance and pitching a no-hitter and only facing 22 batters in itself is more than enough to win a weekly baseball honor, but what makes the feat even more of an accomplishment it was the second-straight no-no, and that earns Lopez a spot on the Most Consecutive No-Hitters list in the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book.

On February 28, and in the opening game of the McFarland Tournament, Lopez had his first no-hitter and like the second one last week he was a base on balls away from a perfect game after striking out six of the 19 batters he faced in a 6-inning 9-0 victory over Kings Christian of Lemoore. Although he doesn’t bat a lot, he also went 2-for-3 with two RBI against Kings Christian.

So far this season for the 5-1 Grizzlies, Lopez is 3-0 in four appearances with a 0.00 ERA and he’s struck out 24 batters in 19 innings pitched, and he’s only given up four hits and three walks with batters hitting a paltry .066 against Rene. As a batter himself he has three hits in eight at-bats and has driven in three runs and scored twice.

Like we said with respect to his pitching, there are lots of zeros and real good ones.

Gage Jump is a left-handed junior pitcher who could become the rage of MLB scouts if he’s not already. Photo: @JSerraLionsBB / Twitter.com.


Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Gage Jump (JSerra, SJ Capistrano) Jr.

Two different people who’ve seen a lot of great high school baseball both described Jump’s pitching outing in glowing terms last week when JSerra defeated Huntington Beach 6-1 as part of a doubleheader sweep.

So what did Jump do? The left-hander with pin-point control and fastball velocity that has reached 90 mph didn’t throw a no-hitter, but did only give up one hit, with no walks and struck out 13 in 5 1/3 innings facing an Oilers’ team that like the Lions came into the doubleheader in the top 10 of the state and with a lineup including several D1-bound college players.

“Simply put, this was the best outing we have ever seen at our school, by a pitcher,” said head coach Brett Kay in a writeup about Gage on the team’s twitter page. “It was a dominant performance against a state ranked opponent.”

Longtime Orange County Register prep sportswriter Steve Fryer, in talking about baseball at the end of the Mater Dei-Etiwanda CIF SoCal Open Division boys basketball game on Saturday night, mentioned Jump as well.

“That junior left-hander was the best for one game that I’ve ever seen,” Fryer recalled.

Gage could therefore be the rage for the rest of the spring, but a lot of others who’ve already seen him have thought he had that kind of stuff. He has already committed to UCLA and he’s had similar outings before. In the 2018 Boras Classic, Jump had a one-hitter in a win against Simi Valley and in last year’s CIF Southern Section D1 playoff loss (3-2) to Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach, he had 5 2/3 innings of no-hit ball.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Softball Player of the Week

Kelly McGuigan (St. Ignatius, San Francisco) Sr.

We head to the Sunset District of San Francisco near the Pacific Ocean to a school and a neighborhood that prior to the Second World War was all sand dunes. There we find a catcher and first-base girl who has a reputation for carrying a big bat.

Last week, McGuigan had three home runs in four games, and even though the Wildcats only went 2-2 to go to 4-2 on the season, the performances of Kelly earns her the Northern California Softball Player of the Week award.

Kelly and her teammates had a bit of a downer in a 4-2 loss to start the week to Sequoia of Redwood City in a game in which McGuigan did not get a hit.

Two days later, though, McGuigan had no mercy on Mercy of Burlingame after she went 3-for-4 and hit a home run and a triple with five RBI and three runs scored in a 12-0 victory. On Friday in the Half Moon Bay tournament, the Wildcats were edged by Burlingame, 8-7, but Kelly went 4-for-6 with another home run and three RBI with four runs scored. Finally, in the second game on Friday, and in a 9-0 victory over El Camino of South San Francisco, McGuigan went 4-for-4 and hit a home run in her third straight game, smacked a double, and had three RBI and three runs scored.

So far this season, McGuigan is hitting .667, her four home runs is the reported leading mark in the CIF Central Coast Section, her 14 RBI is also the CCS top reported mark, and her 14 runs scored also leads the section for reported numbers.

Last season was a slightly off one for Kelly as she batted .368 with two home runs and only 16 RBI and 11 runs scored, numbers she had in 21 games she’s pretty much surpassed in just six games this season. However, in her sophomore season when she was named All State Underclass First Team as a catcher, McGuigan batted .488 with 13 home runs, 35 RBI and 20 runs scored. That followed a freshman year in which Kelly hit .390 with six home runs, 21 RBI and 19 runs scored.

Add it all up and with over almost three-quarters of her senior season remaining, the Williams College-commit has career numbers including a .444 batting average with 25 home runs and 86 RBI with 74 runs scored.

Savannah Coyle has signed with Cal State San Marcos. Photo: Twitter.com.


Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Savannah Coyle
(Rancho Buena Vista, Vista) Jr.

The North County portion of the CIF San Diego Section is where we land to find our Southern California Softball Player of the Week award winner.

In both the circle and with bat in hand, Savannah has not been shy nor has Coyle been coy about the way she’s started the season.

Last week, in four games at the Cougar Classic in nearby Escondido, Coyle, who will be playing softball in college around five miles away from Rancho Buena Vista at Cal State San Marcos, was dominating.

Coyle took the circle in the Cougar Classic opener and pitched a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts in five innings of work in a 4-0 victory over San Marcos. At the plate she was 1-for-2 and her double drove in the only run she needed in the shutout. Savannah didn’t pitch in the next game, a 20-6 rout of Temecula Chaparral, but she played first base and was 2-for-2 with a double, a base on balls, two RBI and a run scored.

In the third game of the Cougar Classic, Coyle pitched in an 11-1 victory over West Hills of Santee and gave up two hits with three strikeouts and no earned runs in four innings of work. As a batter she was 1-for-2 with a double and a walk. Savannah didn’t pitch against host Escondido but she had a double in her fifth straight game, stole her only base of the season, had another walk and scored a run in a 4-2 victory that got the bubble team in the state rankings to 6-0 on the season.

We already decided to honor Coyle but as has been the case before, we kind of put the kibosh on Rancho Buena Vista, but not really on Coyle.

On Monday, and in the semifinals of the Cougar Classic the Longhorns were 10-1 winners over Ramona and Savannah pitched and went all five innings of the mercy shortened affair, but she was a little off after giving up four hits and three walks with five strikeouts, but she also gave up her first earned run of the season. Coyle did go 2-for-3 at the plate and although she didn’t have a sixth consecutive game with a double, she went yard for her first home run of the season and drove in two runs.

In the title game held two hours later, Coyle did not pitch and you guessed it, they lost for the first time this season, 4-3, to Bonita Vista of Chula Vista. Very few pitchers can go back-to-back games on a two-hour rest, but despite not starting she was still a terror at the plate after homering in a second straight game for two of the Rancho Buena Vista runs. She also walked and had a sacrifice bunt. Savannah did come on in relief ad pitched the final 1.1 innings and fanned three but the Longhorns could not pull out the victory.

On the season, Coyle, who is a member of the Junior National Team from Mexico, is 5-0 with a 0.84 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched. At the plate, she’s hitting .625 with the two homers and five doubles with 10 RBI and five runs scored. At first base and pitcher combined, Savannah also only has had one error in 20 chances.

Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at marketingharoldabend@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend


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