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2024 HMG-COMMUNITY NEWS SPRING ALL-AREA TEAMS – Gahr, Valley Christian softball, La Mirada baseball enjoy finest seasons in history of programs

June 5, 2024

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on X

Never had there been a spring season like the one just completed as the Gahr High and Valley Christian High softball teams captured CIF-Southern Section divisional championships. It was also a banner season for the La Mirada High baseball team, which advanced to the finals of the CIF Southern California Division I Regionals. The Cerritos High baseball and softball teams were on top of the 605 League again while the La Mirada baseball and softball teams claimed the Gateway League for a second straight season.

Listed below are the recipients of the 2024 HMG-Community News Spring All-Area Teams.



P-Walker Calvo (La Mirada)

P-Jake Ourique (Gahr)

C-Justin Torres (La Mirada)

1B-Jacob Oropeza (La Mirada)

2B-Justin Sagun (Cerritos)

3B-Maverek Russell (La Mirada)

SS-Dalton Chi (Cerritos)

LF-Noah Gapuz (Cerritos)

CF-Johan Gibbs (Cerritos)

RF-Kevin Jeon (La Mirada)

UTL-Mike Lee (Gahr)


P-Kaden Corns (La Mirada)

P-Christian Wright (Cerritos)

C-Jonathan Masella (Cerritos)

1B-Elijah Pannell (Cerritos)

2B-Bear Calvo (La Mirada)

3B-Carter Chi (Cerritos)

SS-Aiden Aguayo (La Mirada)

LF-Angel Aguilar (John Glenn)

CF-Travis Friend (La Mirada)

RF-Braxton Reed (Cerritos)

UTL-Tristen Chen (Cerritos)


P-Jack Lake (Cerritos)

P-Matthew Sandoval (Gahr)

C-Oscar Grijalva (Gahr)

1B-Evan Perez (John Glenn)

2B-Jonah Mason (John Glenn)

3B-Jose Perez (Gahr)

SS-Andres Gonzalez (Gahr)

LF-R.J. Estrada (Valley Christian)

CF-Logan Bruce (John Glenn)

RF-Adrien Ramirez (Gahr)

UTL-Sebastian DeAvila (La Mirada)


P-Luke Armijo (La Mirada)

P-Riley Jones (Valley Christian)

C-Daniel Carbajal (Artesia)

1B-JoJo Eljaik (Gahr)

2B-Victor Sanchez (Artesia)

3B-Lucas Witt (Valley Christian)

SS-Ethan Mertz (Valley Christian)

LF-Ruben Ramirez (Norwalk)

CF-Angel Martinez (Norwalk)

RF-Bert Rodriguez (John Glenn)

UTL-Alex Escobar (Artesia)

Co-Players of the Year-La Mirada has never been short of extraordinary talent and juniors Kevin Jeon and Maverek Russell are two more to have worn the blue and gold uniform. Jeon, a right fielder, led the Matadores with a .406 batting average, 39 hits, 29 runs and 25 runs batted in. He was also tops with three triples and hit three of the team’s 23 home runs.

Russell, the third baseman for the Mats, was right behind him with a .402 average 33 hits, 24 runs, 21 RBI and 12 doubles. On top of that, Russell is 23 hits shy of becoming the school’s all-time leader in that category. Russell was also the most valuable player of the Gateway League and was named to the All-CIF-Southern Section team for Division 1.

Pitcher of the Year-This award could have gone to any of the three pitchers who amassed over 30 innings pitched but La Mirada senior Walker Calvo gets this honor. He went 7-1 with an earned run average of 2.62. He led the team in innings pitched (42.2) and fewest walks allowed by a starter (seven). His lone loss was the season-opener against Santa Margarita High and was one of three La Mirada pitchers to have faced over 150 batters. Calvo was the Gateway League’s most valuable pitcher and was also named to the All-CIF-SS team.

Coach of the Year-La Mirada head coach Jimmy Zurn, who has never advanced to a CIF-SS divisional championship game, can call himself a CIF Southern California Regional Division I finalist. He guided the Matadores to a 25-8 record this season and reached the quarterfinals for the second straight season. La Mirada lost its first two games of the season and was 3-3 before winning 10 straight. Of the eight losses, five were to Division 1 teams and five were by one run.



P-Jailynn Banda (Norwalk)

P-Montserrat Reyes-Cardenas (La Mirada)

C-Rebecca Eckart (La Mirada)

1B-Arianna Franco (Artesia)

2B-Larissa Flores (Gahr)

3B-Kendall Nakano (Norwalk)

SS-Rio Mendez (Gahr)

LF-Angelina Ratzlaff (La Mirada)

CF-Natalie Hill (Gahr)

RF-Tallulah Ireland (Valley Christian)

UTL-Toafaoalii Pua (Cerritos)


P-Isabella Gonzalez (Gahr)

P-Rachel Zhang (Valley Christian)

C-Peyton Kingery (Valley Christian)

1B-Natalie Gardea (Cerritos)

2B-Reese Hilliard (La Mirada)

3B-Marley Cortez (Gahr)

SS-Britton Brown (Valley Christian)

LF-Zoee Barrett (Valley Christian)

CF-Choyce Chambers (Valley Christian)

RF-Diana Avina (Norwalk)

UTL-Alyssa Aguilar (Gahr)


P-Kylie Manibusan (Cerritos)

P-Maya Torres (Artesia)

C-Vanessa Soto (Artesia)

1B-Kayla Martin (Valley Christian)

2B-Ava Ceron (Cerritos)

3B-Brianna Ramirez (Valley Christian)

SS-Amarie Encarnacion (Norwalk)

LF-Malaia Huskey (Gahr)

CF-Alea Medina (Artesia)

RF-Ella Nelson (Whitney)

UTL-Alianna Calderon (Cerritos)


P-Monicka Manni (Whitney)

P-Alison Ortega (La Mirada)

C-Jezrael Acosta (Norwalk)

1B-Nayeli Sanchez (Norwalk)

2B-Kristen Sutton (Whitney)

3B-Angelyna Conde (La Mirada)

SS-Michelle Meza (Cerritos)

LF-Julie Vega (Norwalk)

CF-Diana Bravo (John Glenn)

RF-Presley Hendrix (Cerritos)

UTL-Alyssa Avila (La Mirada)

Player of the Year-Rebecca Eckart was the heart and soul of a La Mirada team stacked with talent. The senior catcher, who will be taking her talents to the University of Notre Dame, led the Matadores with a .402 batting average, 33 hits, 20 RBI and 11 extra base hits. In 82 at-bats, Eckart struck out just five times.

Pitcher of the Year-There is no tougher pitcher in the area than La Mirada’s Montserrat Reyes-Cardenas. The junior was tied among area pitchers with 15 victories and had 189 strikeouts. She and her batterymate, Eckart, took home the top Gateway League honors and made it on the All-CIF-SS Division 1 team.

Co-coaches of the Year-It was a magical season for Gahr head coach Rey Sanchez and Valley Christian head coach Chet Kingery, who won their respective divisional championships within hours of each other. The last of four championship games played on May 18 saw Gahr rally from a 3-0 hole after five innings against California High and a 4-3 deficit going to the bottom of the seventh to pull out a 5-4 win for the Division 2 title. The Gladiators went 19-10 and won nine of their last 10 contests.

V.C. edged Liberty High 8-7 in the second of the four championship games of May 18 to win the Division 5 crown. The Defenders wound then fall to Steele Canyon High in the Southern California Regionals to end their season at 19-7. During their run to the championship game, the Defenders rallied from three runs down in the first inning to defeat Shadow Hills High 8-5 in eight innings in the second round and trailed St. Bonaventure High 13-10 heading to the seventh inning before tying the game to send the game to extra innings. There, V.C. erupted for eight runs in the ninth to win 21-13. Kingery will bring back nearly the entire team as the Defenders graduate three players.