NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s honorees are Kailey Estes from Gregori of Modesto and Zane Nordquist from El Camino of Oceanside. Photos: & El Camino athletics /

This is a week when we fulfill both purposes of this feature, to find and track potential entries for the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book, and we have one honoree that makes a huge record book splash, and to uncover talent that usually would only get local attention. This week our stops are in Madera and Modesto in Northern California and Oceanside and Indio in Southern California.

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

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Softball Player of the Week

Kailey Estes (Gregori, Modesto) Sr.

To find the Northern California Softball Player of the Week we head to northwest Modesto a little over a mile east of Highway 99 and we end up locating the pitcher and slugger we’re honoring at Gregori High.

Estes has had a fine four-year varsity career and like many of our honorees she could have been chosen for a weekly award multiple times in the past, but it’s this week that besides getting lots of local kudos Kailey receives statewide recognition.

In two games last week, Estes was lights out in the circle as well as at the plate.

At Pitman of Turlock in the first game of the week, Estes didn’t get a hit as a batter but neither did the host Pride after Kailey pitched a no-hitter with 14 strikeouts. Only an error separated her from a perfect game.

Two days later in an 11-0 victory over visiting crosstown Downey, it was another error that prevented a perfecto but in this mercy shortened outing Kailey struck out 13 of the 16 batters she faced. In this game, she was 2-for-2 as a batter with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored.

So far this season for 16-4 Gregori and heading into a Central California League showdown on Tuesday with visiting Turlock, Estes was 16-3 with a 1.03 ERA and 185 strikeouts and a paltry eight walks in 115 innings pitched. She was also hitting for a .321 batting average with two home runs, 14 RBI and 14 runs scored.

The 16 wins as a pitcher is the top reported mark in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section and No. 6 in the state according to MaxPreps, and the 185 strikeouts in No. 2 in the section and top 15 in the state.

McGuire Smith (14) is shown as part of a team photo taken during 2023 CIF Central Section playoffs. Photo:

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Baseball Player of the Week

McGuire Smith (Liberty, Madera Ranchos) Sr.

Our search for the Northern California Baseball Player of the Week takes us just north of Fresno and about halfway between highways 99 and 41 in the eastern portion of Madera, and it’s at Liberty High that we find the award winner courtesy of a nomination by CIF Central Section historian and longtime Cal-Hi Sports friend and contributor Bob Barnett in his weekly stat stars report to us.

Smith has been a steady producer on offense ever since he started wearing a Hawks jersey as a freshman, but last week the 6-foot-2, 180-pound UC Riverside-bound left-handed slugger had “a perfect week” according to Barnett.

In two games against neighboring Minarets of O’Neals, a 16-1 home win and a 17-0 victory on the road, McGuire was 6-for-6 at the plate. In the first game, Smith was 3-for-3 with a walk, double, an RBI and four runs scored. Three days later he was 3-for-3 with two walks, he got plunked, had a triple, drove in four and scored five times himself.

So far this season for 20-2 Liberty and heading into a Tuesday Northwest Sequoia League match-up at Yosemite of Oakhurst, Smith was hitting .452 with a home run, three triples, 11 doubles, 34 RBI and 25 runs scored.

We could probably call McGuire Mr. Consistency because he’s been the epitome being consistent at the plate. He hit .452 as a freshman, .435 as a sophomore and .459 as a junior.

Smith also has 181 career hits starting this week and according to Barnett that is top 10 all time in Central Section history.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Zane Nordquist (El Camino, Oceanside) Jr.

We head to the northwest portion of the CIF San Diego Section in the quest to find the Southern California Baseball Player of the Week and we end up a few miles east of the Pacific Ocean in Oceanside.

It’s at El Camino High where we find this week’s honoree who with his performance last week not only earns statewide recognition, but also etches his name into the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book.

Last week, in a 10-1 victory over nearby Valley Center, Zane tossed a no-hitter with 19 strikeouts and a walk. The 19 strikeouts ties Zane for the fourth most batters whiffed on the Most Strikeouts In No-Hitter/Perfect Game list in the record book. It is also the No. 2 in San Diego Section history. In the section records for most strikeouts in a game regardless of whether it’s a no-hitter or not, it’s in a big tie for third.

So far this season, and heading into a Tuesday afternoon Valley League showdown for the 15-7 Wildcats with visiting Escondido, the El Camino left-hander was only 2-3 but he has a team low 1.25 ERA on a deep staff of 10 pitchers that have made appearances, plus Zane has a team high 59 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched. When he’s not pitching, he plays the outfield and as a batter he carries a .304 average.

Jaeda Diaz did a TV interview after she was named all-league as a freshman last season. Photo: NBCPalmSprings.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Jaeda Diaz (Indio) Soph.

To find the Southern California Softball Player of the Week, we venture to the Coachella Valley well east of Riverside and just south of Palm Springs and we land in Indio. It’s been a party in Indio the past two weeks at the famous Coachella music festival, but at Indio High the party has been about Jaeda Diaz’s home runs.

The competition for an Indio team that began this week at 19-5 and 13-0 in the Desert Valley League has not been that difficult in league, but the numbers Diaz recently posted are still pretty amazing.

In a total blowout of Desert Hot Springs from April 12 and in a game that only went five innings, Diaz hit four home runs, drove in 11 runners and scored six times herself. In the first game of last week, a 15-4 victory over Twentynine Palms, Jaeda blasted three home runs, had six RBI and scored four times. And finally, in the second game against Twentynine Palms, Diaz belted three home runs, drove in eight and scored three times. That’s 10 home runs in three games.

It doesn’t count towards this week’s honor but on Monday Diaz hit home run No. 16 this season in a win vs Coachella Valley, and got RBI No. 66 so far in 24 games.

The 16 home runs is top 25 nationally for reported marks, No. 3 in California and No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section according to MaxPreps. The 66 RBI is tied for No. 4 nationally, No. 2 in California and tops in the Southern Section

Diaz has already secured four spots in the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book. The four home runs ties her with eight other players for the top spot on the Most Home Runs (Game) list. The 16 home runs already gets Jaeda a spot on the Most Home Runs (Season) list, her 25 career home runs already qualifies for a spot on the Most Home Runs (Career) list, and last but not least the 66 RBI already qualifies her for a spot on the Most Runs Batted in (Season) list.

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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  1. John Perez
    Posted April 23, 2024 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    VALLEY VIEW Soph Alyssa Torres hit her 16 Home Run against Temescal Canyon.

  2. John Perez
    Posted April 24, 2024 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Valley View Soph Alyssa Torres hit 2 more Home Runs today . She’s at 18 for the year.

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