NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

NorCal Player of the Week Kailey Estes (No. 8 in middle) from Gregori of Modesto is shown at left in a team photo. NorCal Player of the Week Justin Cuellar (right) delivers pitch for Tulare Western of Tulare. Photos: Modesto Bee & Gabe Camarillo.

We didn’t have any potential entries into the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book to track this week, but we had some outstanding performances from players that usually only get local props to give some statewide recognition. In Northern California we visit Tulare and Modesto, and in Southern California our stops are in Covina and San Diego.

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Notes: For these honors, we consider CIF Central Section players for Northern California. To nominate anyone, email

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Justin “Moose” Cuellar (Tulare West, Tulare) Jr.

The search for the Northern California Baseball Player of the Week takes us to “The Valley” as locals like to call the CIF Central Section and in visiting there we remind readers that for all Player of the Week features in all sports, boys and girls, the Central Section is considered Northern California.

The destination where we find our award winner is around halfway between Fresno and Bakersfield on Highway 99 in Tulare, and while we’re pretty sure there aren’t any moose roaming the streets of Tulare, there is one at Tulare Western named Justin “Moose” Cuellar who according to Fresno sports scribe/broadcaster Gabe Camarillo got the nickname from his mother at birth because he was a big boy.

Now, Cuellar is a 6-foot-1, 200-pound UCLA-committed junior left-handed pitcher who pitched the second game of the 39th annual Tulare/Visalia Pro-PT Baseball Invitational tournament that eventually was won by Tulare Western, and helped turn things around for the Mustangs after a 5-6 record to start the season.

On Tuesday of last week, all the “Moose” did was throw a no-hitter with four walks as Tulare Western was an 11-0 winner over Bakersfield. At the plate Cuellar walked twice, stole a base and had an RBI and a run scored.

Cuellar also had some big hits in a wild-and-wacky title game of the tourney as he finished 2-for-3 with a double and four RBI as the Mustangs outlasted Centennial of Bakersfield, 17-16.

There are two people we’re pretty sure Justin would like to give a shout out to, his mother who gave him his nickname, and also gave birth to his twin brother Jace Cuellar, who also plays and pitches for Tulare Western.

Dean Curley will play next at the University of Tennessee. Photo: Gwen Pointer /

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Dean Curley (Northview, Covina) Sr.

We head to the San Gabriel Valley to a town located at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains around midway between the I-10 and the I-201 to find our Southern California Baseball Player of the Week.

In Covina at Northview High is where we locate Curley, a University of Tennessee-committed shortstop who had a lot to do with ending a Northview losing streak.

The Vikings entered the week on a six-game skid that got to seven on Monday in a 6-4 loss to Trabuco Hills of Mission Viejo, but Curley still went 2-for-2 with a double, a walk and two runs scored.

On Tuesday, Dean got mean after going 4-for-4 with a triple, two walks and seven big RBI in a 13-0 victory over Irvine Portola. On Wednesday against Aliso Niguel of Aliso Viejo, Curley was at it again after blasting a home run, and a double with an RBI and two runs scored.

For the three tournament games last week he finished 8-for-10 with a home run, triple, three doubles, and he had eight RBI and four runs scored.

Curley likely got busy early on this week in a Tuesday 21-2 win over crosstown Valle Vista League rival Covina, but if he did it would be icing on the cake. Details about that one were not yet available. Now, after being named the 210 Prep Sports Boys Athlete of the Week for last week’s feats, he is receiving a statewide honor.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Softball Player of the Week

Kailey Estes (Gregori, Modesto) Jr.

To find our Northern California Softball Player of the Week, we head to a city that is the birthplace of Star Wars and Indiana Jones famous movie director George Lucas.

It’s in Modesto at Gregori High that we uncover the talents of Estes and learn exactly why she’s such a big part of the Jaguars getting off to an 11-2 start this season.

Last week was a perfect example.

Kailey started the week on Tuesday by pitching a two-hitter with a walk and 19 strikeouts in a 9-inning 1-0 victory over crosstown Modesto. She also walked and stole a base.

Two days later, Estes came back and just like on Tuesday her Jaguars’ teammates could only muster a run but Kailey made it stand up by tossing a two-hitter with three walks and nine strikeouts in a shutout of Turlock Pitman. In that game she had a hit in three at-bats.

Earlier this season in a 5-0 victory over 2022 CIF Northern Regional Division II champion Lincoln of Stockton, Estes pitched a no-hitter and was only a walk away from a perfect game. In that win she walked and then stole two bases before being driven in with the only run she needed.

So far this season and heading into a Thursday match-up with St. Francis of Sacramento at the NorCal Classic in Tracy, Estes is 7-0 with a 0.15 ERA and 72 strikeouts and only eight walks in 47 innings pitched. In eight reported appearances she’s only given up one earned run and no extra base hits.

Kailey didn’t do a lot of hitting last week but on the season for the eight games reported she’s hitting for a .417 average.

Stefini Ma’ake has been in the Class of 2024 Extra Elite player rankings for several years. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Stefini Ma’ake
(Our Lady of Peace, San Diego) Jr.

To find the Southern California Softball Player of the Week we head to a city nicknamed “America’s Finest City” and in doing so we land in San Diego.

At Our Lady of Peace, or OLP as the locals refer to the all girls school, we find a pretty fine softball player as our honoree that already has committed to Oregon as a junior.

Last week, in non-league away games against Olympian (Chula Vista) and crosstown Canyon Hills, Ma’ake hit the daily double twice after hitting two home runs in consecutive games.

Besides the two home runs in the Olympian game, Stefini had four RBI and two runs scored in a 5-2 victory. The Peace Pilots’ shortstop pitched against Olympian and only gave up one earned run on six hits and one walk with five strikeouts. The next day, and in an 8-1 win over Canyon Hills, Ma’ake added six RBI and three runs scored to the two round-trippers.

Ma’ake didn’t play in a loss to Helix of La Mesa on Friday and a tie with Imperial on Monday, but so far this season Stefini is hitting a whopping .771 with nine home runs, eight doubles, 39 RBI and 18 runs scored. Her slugging and OPS percentages are off the charts at 1.771 and 2.560, respectively.

The .771 batting average is the reported No. 5 mark in the state and No. 1 in the CIF San Diego Section, the home runs are tied for No. 5 in the state and are No. 1 in the San Diego Section, the RBI are No. 10 in the state and No. 2 in the San Diego Section, and finally there is no reported OPS stats recorded statewide, but not surprisingly the slugging percentage is tops in the state.

On a final note, we’re pretty sure Stefini would like to give a shout-out to her younger sister, Alayna Ma’ake, a sophomore left-fielder who is hitting .310 this season.

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

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