Here’s a look at who turned out to be the top high school girls basketball players in the county. The Monterey Herald’s All-County boys’ basketball team:
Jeremie Banuelos, Soledad — Hitting for power and average, the junior finished with a .405 batting average, leading the Aztecs in homers with five and runs batted in with 33. A first baseman, Banuelos also compiled a .540 on-base percentage, scoring 26 runs for Soledad, which won 21 games and knocked off the top seed in the CCS Division III playoffs.
Jacksen Bartholomew, Carmel — Possessed power at the plate with four homers, providing a spark in the batting order down the stretch. Bartholomew finished among the team leaders for Carmel in homers, runs batted in, runs scored, hits, multiple-hit games and doubles.
JoJo Cardinale, Palma — The Gabilan Division Co-Player of the Year, Cardinale hit .410 for the Chieftains, compiling a .507 on-base percentage with 32 hits and 15 stolen bases. Headed to the University of Utah on a baseball scholarship, the shortstop produced 12 multiple-hit games and an 11-game hitting streak. Cardinale also scored 23 runs and drove in 20. Cardinale also recorded three saves as a reliever, and did not allow an earned run in six appearances.
Gavin Ducker, Palma — Clutch with runners on the base paths, the multi-position senior led the county in runs batted in with 41 and homers with seven. Spending time behind the dish and at times at first base, Ducker hit .431 overall with 38 hits. Half of his hits went for extra bases, as he helped Palma to a 22-win season.
Zach Lewis, Pacific Grove — A bright spot in a somber season for the Breakers, Lewis didn’t get to see a lot of good pitches, yet still hit .387. The senior led Pacific Grove in every offensive category, finishing with 29 hits, 13 runs and 10 runs batted in. Lewis also stole 10 bases and compiled a .915 fielding percentage in the infield.
Xavier Nelson, Rancho San Juan — The Cypress Division Offensive Player of the Year, Nelson put up record-setting numbers for the Trailblazers, hitting 538. The first athlete from Rancho San Juan to earn all-county honors in any sport, Nelson led the team in homers (5), runs batted (39), runs scored (44) and stolen bases (13). He also had a .978 fielding percentage in the outfield.
Pablo Sanchez, Monterey — Consistent at the plate all spring, the junior first baseman hit .338 with a team-high 21 runs batted in, providing timely hits in the team’s drive to a Central Coast Section title. Sanchez shared the team lead in hits with 30 and runs scored with 21. He also compiled a team-high .471 on base percentage and shared the team lead in homers.
JJ Sanchez, Carmel — The ace of the pitching staff, the hurler also hit over .400 for the Padres, who reached the CCS Division IV finals. He led the team in hits, homers and runs batted in. On the mound, Sanchez won seven games, with 62 strikeouts. He tossed a shutout in his last regular-season game and picked up a win in the postseason.
Eric Segura, Soledad — In 73 innings, the Oregon State-bound hurler posted a 0.67 earned run average, with 11 strikeouts and eight wins – including two no-hitters. Segura was 3-1 this year against teams that won CCS divisional titles. Segura hit a team-high .470, leading the Aztecs in hits (38), runs scored (36), stolen bases (13) and doubles (10). The junior also homered and drove in 26 runs.
Trent Toole, Stevenson — Toole hit .521 for the Cypress Division champions – their first title in 37 years. The junior shortstop/pitcher led Stevenson in runs batted in (31), hits (38) and runs scored (33). On the mound, Toole was 6-1 with a 1.35 earned run average, with 56 strikeouts in 41 innings of work.
Jeremy Valenzuela, Palma — The senior first baseman/outfielder put together an 11-game hitting streak, finishing with a team-high .476 batting average with 31 hits for the Chieftains. Walked or hit by a pitch a county-high 31 times, Valenzuela finished with a .635 on-base percentage. He also had 10 doubles for the Chieftains.
Nate Wedderburn, Monterey — The sophomore pitcher went 7-2 during the season with a 0.92 earned run average, tossing a shutout in the Toreadores CCS DIII title game. Wedderburn struck out 125 hitters, including 11 in the title game. He shared the team lead in hits with 26, while hitting .270.
Michael Groves, Monterey coach — Closing the season with eight straight wins brought the program its first Central Coast Section title in 11 years. Building a team around youth, Groves stayed patient, as the program closed the regular season with wins over San Benito and Palma, then outscored three playoff teams 19-5.
Honorable mention — Dylan Page, Monterey; Goose Garrett, Monterey; Matt Mewborn, Monterey, Sean Ishii, Stevenson, Evan Johnson, Stevenson; Rider McCormick, Stevenson, Donovan Dominguez, Rancho San Juan; Adam Morris, Rancho San Juan, Nate Dixon, Gonzales; Manuel Gutierrez, Greenfield; Malcolm Bautista, Greenfield; Darren Ybarra, Marina; Luke Rossi, Palma; Nate Cruz, Palma, Jayden Kim, Palma; Jack Arnold, Carmel; Alex Harrison, Carmel; Octavio, Soto, Salinas; Manny Dorantes, Salinas; Jeffrey Longoria, Salinas; Dominic Chavez, Soledad, Daniel Raso, Soledad; Jorge Olivarra, Soledad; Israel Valenzuela, Alisal; Gerardo Valadez, Alisal; Jackson Villanueva, King City.
Contributed by local news sources