NorCal/SoCal Players of the Week

Two of this week’s Northern California & Southern California honorees are Kole Laubach (left) from Valley Christian of San Jose and Savana Estrada from Aquinas of San Bernardino. Photos: @VCHSAthletics / & Aquinas HS athletics /

It’s not the usual when we honor players from highly-ranked teams, instead looking to highlight those from smaller and medium-size programs, but this week it was impossible for the two baseball honorees not to be pitchers from Valley Christian of San Jose in the north and Maranatha of Pasadena in the south. For softball, we go for offense and land in Tracy in the north and San Bernardino in the south.

We hope you enjoy this free story on Cal-Hi For our state rankings packages in baseball and softball after the first free week plus State Stat Stars of the Week, state record updates and special features, please check out our Gold Club membership today. If you’re not a member, CLICK HERE.

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

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Kole Laubach (Valley Christian, San Jose) Jr.

In one sense it wasn’t a great week for Kole and the Warriors as an early week loss to St. Ignatius of San Francisco ended up causing them to finish in a tie for the West Catholic Athletic League regular season championship with Serra of San Mateo.

In the second game against St. Ignatius, however, it was all forgotten. The junior pitcher has been lights out all season and last Friday he gave up no hits, no walks and there were no errors in a 3-0 victory. In other words, a 21-up, 21-down perfect game. Laubach struck out seven in his perfect game and got plenty of help from his defense, including a line drive for the final out caught by freshman Antonio Chavez that for a heartbeat looked like it might spoil everything.

Valley Christian head coach John Diatte told the Bay Area News Group that he has never had a pitcher throw a perfect game in his 35 years in the post. He also mentioned that Kole is the grandson of a player he had early on in his career, which is another first for him.

For his four West Catholic Athletic League outings, Laubauch has not allowed an earned run and he has a 4-0 record. Valley Christian (23-4) began this week at No. 6 in the overall Cal-Hi Sports state rankings.

Elysia Duarte has almost been perfect in her last 12 at-bats heading into this week for Kimball of Tracy. Photo: Joe Roswell / @KimballSoftball.

Cal-Hi Sports Northern California
Softball Player of the Week

Elysia Duarte (Kimball, Tracy) Sr.

While it took two games last week for Duarte to go 5-for-5, which many of our honorees in the past have done in one game, it’s what she’s done over two weeks and the entire season that makes us stop this week in the San Joaquin County city of Tracy, which Bay Area commuters know very well from the heavy traffic that flows in and over the Altamont Pass.

Duarte clogs the bases herself as if she were a one-girl traffic jam. In her games last week, she went 2-for-2 with a double and three RBI in a 4-3 win over Oakdale and then 3-for-3 with a double in a 4-1 triumph vs East Union of Manteca. The Jaguars didn’t win in their previous game, but in the 7-6 loss to Central Catholic of Modesto it was Elysia going 3-for-3 with two doubles. Then in the game before that she went 3-for-4 with a double in a 11-10 loss to Manteca.

Head coach Justin Bigler, who nominated Elysia, also reported that she scored four runs with one sacrifice bunt, one walk, one hit by pitch and two steals during the four-game stretch.

For the season, Duarte began this week with a .561 batting average with 32 hits and 14 RBI.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Softball Player of the Week

Savana Estrada (Aquinas, San Bernardino) Soph.

Our search for the SoCal honoree in softball this week takes us to a school that has had several big-time state stat stars in recent years that are all over the state record book. It’s just north of the 210 freeway about halfway between the 18 and 330 highways where we find Savana.

Estrada didn’t have one of those crazy stat lines in a ridiculous rout, but she has had them before and instead gains this week’s honor for one swing of the bat. It came with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning and you guessed it was a walk off grand slam that gave the Falcons a 6-2 win over Cajon of San Bernardino. Cajon pitcher Jada Villegas also is a player who has gotten this honor earlier in her career.

With the win, Aquinas moved on into this week’s CIF Southern Section D3 playoffs on Tuesday against Santa Fe of Santa Fe Springs and improved its perfect record on the season to 27-0 (28-0 counting a forfeit).

Estrada has stepped up a sophomore to become the Falcons’ top power hitter with 12 homers and 50 RBI. In the team’s last two regular season games in lopsided wins over Woodcrest Christian of Riverside, Savana went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBI and 3-for-3 with a double, four runs scored and three RBI.

Zach Strickland improved his record this season to 9-0 as a pitcher for the Maranatha squad. Photo: 210 Prep Sports.

Cal-Hi Sports Southern California
Baseball Player of the Week

Zach Strickland (Maranatha, Pasadena) Jr.

Another pitcher from a top 10 team in the state that just had to grab a piece of the player of the week spotlight this week is Strickland. The junior is well-known among scouts and the analysts at Prep Baseball CA for reaching high velocities and was recorded at 96 mph by one gun during the game he had last Friday for the Eagles in the CIF Southern Section D2 playoffs in their game against Royal of Simi Valley.

It’s what Zach did with all his pitches, however, that made the UCLA commit too hard to pass on for this week’s SoCal honor. He not only pitched a no-hitter vs Royal in a playoff game, but struck out 17 batters. Strickland also had an RBI triple to help Maranatha get a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning.

“Zach was incredible, his focus, his determination, everything was on,” head coach Matt Shupper told the 210 Prep Sports website. “Zach not only tossed a no-hitter in a playoff game which is special and rare on its own, but to strike out 17, it’s hard to even fathom.”

In Strickland’s previous start, he had a three-hitter with nine strikeouts to lead Maranatha past West Ranch of Valencia, 7-1, in a non-league matchup. There also was nine strikeouts before that in 5 2/3 innings in a win vs Whittier Christian. The team doesn’t put stats up on MaxPreps but does a great job doing game-by-game updates on social media.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

Enjoy this article?

Find out how you can get access to more exclusive content, one-of-a-kind California high school sports content!

Learn More

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *


    Latest News

    Insider Blog