AREA’S BEST: La Habra High’s Aaron Porter not only is an outstanding football player
but quite proficient on the baseball field as well. (Leo Jarzomb / Staff Photographer)
By Steve Ramirez, SGVN
LA HABRA – Most outsiders viewed La Habra High School’s Aaron Porter as a football player who likes to play baseball during the spring.
The senior showed otherwise this season.
Porter proved to be not only the best player on arguably the best team but also the area’s best.
For his efforts, Porter is Daily News Baseball Player of the Year.
Porter is joined on the All-Area first team by teammates Josh Staumont, who earned a spot as a utility player, and infielder Zack Ferreira. Also on the first team are California’s Jimmy Olguin (pitcher), Michael Davis (infielder) and Michael Esparza (outfield); La Serna’s Jared Wight (pitcher) and Alex Garcia (infielder); El Rancho’s Frank Vargas (catcher); Whittier’s Johnny Salgado (infielder); La Mirada’s Ali Anthony (outfield) and Montebello’s Silvestre Sanchez (outfield).
California’s Tony Nieto is Coach of the Year.
But this was the season of Porter, who after earning Daily News Player of the Year honors in football showed his prowess on the baseball field, which proved to be just as impressive.
The senior, who plans to play football and baseball at UCLA, led the area in several key offensive categories, including batting .489 with 34 RBIs. He also scored 26 runs, had 11 doubles and was second in the area in home runs with eight. Porter also was lights-out as a pitcher. He didn’t give up an earned run and struck out 14 in 12 innings.
Porter was one of three area players to earn All-CIF-Southern Section accolades, joining teammate Staumont and St. Paul’s Jared Paderez.
“Aaron’s our guy,” La Habra coach Paul Caffrey said earlier this season about the senior, “Obviously, we’ve rode him all year.
“To get him (in a key situation), he was going to make (the opposition) pay. In that spot, he just gets it done.”
Player of the Year – Aaron Porter, La Habra
Coach of the Year – Andy Nieto, California
Pitcher: Jimmy Olguin, Cal
Pitcher: Jared Wight, La Serna
Infield: Johnny Salgado, Whittier
Infield: Michael Davis, Cal
Infield: Zack Ferreira, La Habra
Infield: Alex Garcia, La Serna
Outfield: Michael Esparza, Cal
Outfield: Silvestre Sanchez, Montebello
Outfield: Ali Anthony, La Mirada
Utility: Josh Staumont, La Habra
And because of Porter, La Habra got it done, having its best season in nearly a decade after winning the Freeway League title for the first time since 2004 and advancing to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs.
“We had a great year,” Porter said. “We didn’t have a lot of seniors but we had a lot of younger leadership. We led them to a championship, which is all that matters.
“There was a couple of seniors who led the way. Myself and (pitcher) Spencer Long took control, and we all showed them how to win, how to be a team, and we won a league championship.”
Nieto took a team that wasn’t ranked in the area preseason top five and guided the Condors to their first Del Rio League title since 2009, sweeping two games from first-place Whittier during the final week to earn the championship.
California won 11 of its final 12 games during the regular season before losing, 4-2, to Paramount in the first round of the Division 3 playoffs.
“We felt we had the team to win a league title,” said Nieto, whose Condors finished 18-8. “We had a good group of no-nonsense players who had outstanding chemistry. They were all on board.
“The major goal was to win a league championship. We wanted to go further, but it didn’t work out. It wasn’t in the cards. But it was a special season for all of our players. I feel humbled to be honored as Coach of the Year. But it wasn’t just me, it was a lot of the pieces behind me; our assistant coaches throughout the program. It was a great year to be a Condor.”
The three key ingredients for California on the field was Esparza, Olguin and Davis.
Esparza earned co-league MVP honors after hitting .342 with 20 RBIs. Olguin was Del Rio League Pitcher of the Year after going 8-1 with a 0.91 ERA. He had 45 strikeouts in 54 innings. Davis hit .413 with 10 RBIs and scoring 15 runs. He also was one of the better defensive infielders in the area.
Staumont and Ferreira helped La Habra become one of two area teams to win a league title.
Staumont did it in the outfield and on the mound. He was 8-2 with a 2.12 ERA, while also hitting .279. Ferreira was one of the top shortstops in the area and La Habra’s second option behind Porter. He hit .361 with 17 RBIs.
Wight and Garcia were the keys for La Serna, which finished third in the Del Rio League and went 1-1 in the CIF-SS playoffs.
Wight, who threw a no-hitter in March, was 7-2 with a 1.24 ERA. He also had six complete games. He was first-team All-Del Rio League.
Garcia ranked with Porter for offensive prowess and hit an area-best nine home runs. The senior, who was Del Rio League co-MVP with Esparza, also hit .479 and had 32 RBIs and eight doubles.
Salgado, first-team All-Del Rio League, was one of the area’s biggest run producers with 28 RBIs. He hit .366 and scored 16 runs.
Anthony and Sanchez led their respective teams to second-place finishes.
Sanchez was one of the top players in the Almont League after hitting .422 with 22 RBIs.
Anthony, a pitcher/outfielder, did it on the mound and at bat. He was 6-4 for La Mirada with a 0.83 ERA and hit .320 with 15 RBIs.