El Rancho’s Guzman and La Serna’s Oviedo named Daily News athletes of the week

El Rancho High School baseball player Dylan Guzman and La Serna High softball pitcher Nikki Oviedo were named the Whittier Daily News athletes of the week.
Guzman, a senior third baseman, hit a grand-slam home run and drove in a team-high five runs to lead El Rancho to a 9-1 Del Rio League victory Friday over Santa Fe.
Oviedo, a senior, pitched a complete-game shutout in the Lancers’ 2-0 Del Rio League win against California. She allowed eight hits, all singles, and no walks in snapping the Condors’ 12-game winning streak.

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High School Baseball: La Habra falls to Sunny Hills

La Habra’s Anthony Acosta delivers a pitch during Wednesday’s Freeway League game at Sunny Hills. (Keith Durflinger / Staff Photographer)

Photo gallery: La Habra-Sunny Hills baseball

By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer

FULLERTON – Wednesday’s Freeway League baseball game between La Habra and Sunny Hills started out as an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel.

That all changed, however, when Sunny Hills’ offense came to life during the game’s latter stages. The host Lancers scored multiple runs in both the fifth and sixth innings and went on to a 5-1 victory over La Habra.

Sunny Hills starter Reese Kimball pitched a complete-game three-hitter to earn the win. He struck out 11 La Habra batters.

Eric Evans, who collected three hits, and Ryan James, who drove in three runs, paced the offense for the Lancers, who improved to 8-9 overall and 4-4 in league. Kimball also helped his own cause by recording two RBIs.

Austin Saad drove in the lone run for the Highlanders (9-11, 4-4).

“We started off slow and weren’t making adjustments,” Sunny Hills coach Raymond Rios said. “We finally made adjustments and made good things happen. Our pitcher had a good game.”

The Lancers, trailing 1-0, woke up offensively in the bottom of the fifth. Evans, who led off the frame with a single to center, scored the Lancers’ first run when he came home on James’ triple to right.

This set the stage for Kimball, who put Sunny Hills ahead to stay when he laid down a successful squeeze bunt that scored James.

“That squeeze gave us a lot of momentum and we built off of that momentum,” Rios said.

Sunny Hills seized control by adding three more runs in the sixth. After Highlanders starting pitcher Anthony Acosta retired the first two batters, Evans extended the inning by producing a groundball single to left. Carlos Kimball followed Evans by delivering his own base hit.

James, the next Lancers batter, made La Habra pay by blasting a two-run double to center. Reese Kimball then closed the game’s scoring with an RBI single.

Sunny Hills secured the victory when Reese Kimball pitched a scoreless seventh.

Things started off promising for La Habra, which scored during its first at-bat. That’s when Saad delivered a two-out RBI single that scored Andrew Gallegos, who reached base on a fielder’s choice.

The Highlanders had an opportunity to extend their lead in the top of the fifth. Senior second baseman Marcus Lopez started the threat when he reached on a two-out double to right.

After an intentional walk to senior shortstop Zack Ferreira, Kimball escaped the jam when he struck out Gallegos.

The two teams meet again Friday at La Habra. With both the Highlanders and Lancers holding 4-4 league marks and trailing first-place Sonora (7-0 entering Wednesday’s league play), Friday’s game could go a long way in determining the postseason picture.”It’s a must-win situation for us,” La Habra coach John Sothern said. “We can’t afford to drop anymore games.”Said Rios, “All these games from now on are huge.”

Friday’s game is scheduled to start at 3:15 p.m.


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2013 All-Area Girls Basketball Team: El Rancho’s Khadidja Diakite tops Whittier Daily News picks

El Rancho High’s Khadidja Diakite has been selected as the Whittier Daily News’ Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year. (Leo Jarzomb / Staff photographer)

Photo gallery: 2013 Whittier Daily News All-Area Girls Basketball Team

Player of the Year: KHADIDJA DIAKITE, El Rancho

El Rancho High School’s girls basketball team managed to make some history this season with senior forward Khadidja Diakite leading the way.

Diakite averaged team-highs in 20.3 points and 12 rebounds per game to lead the Dons to a 22-6 overall record and a co-Del Rio League championship. It marked the first league crown in 21 years for El Rancho, whose 22 wins were a school record.

Diakite, the only area player to post double-digit averages in both points and rebounds, went on to capture the Del Rio’s most valuable player award and first-team All-CIF honors.

For putting together an impressive season, Diakite was named the Daily News girls basketball player of the year.

“We achieved a lot of our goals this season,” Diakite said. “We made history here at El Rancho. We haven’t done that in a long time. I’m proud of my teammates because we achieved a lot of goals and things worked out the way we wanted them to.

“We had a lot of ups and downs but in the end, we all worked together as a family and we won the league title.”

The 2012-13 season also showed how long Diakite has come in a short time. Diakite, a three-year varsity player, has been playing basketball for just four years.

“My sister (Aisha) played and I thought that I might as well try it out,” Diakite said. “I decided to do it to lose weight. It ended up being something I loved and something I was very good at. At first, I didn’t think I was going to like it but once I got into it, I loved it. It’s something that’s a part of me now.”

Diakite, who averaged 2.5 steals, 2.2 blocks and two assists per contest, also contributed from outside as she delivered 31 three-pointers. She also led the Dons to their first tournament win as a program, which came at the Las Vegas Tournament. Diakite won the tournament’s MVP award.

“She pretty much was our do-it-all player,” El Rancho coach Randy Shigezane said of Diakite. “She pretty much played all positions for us. She has been a special kid to work with on the varsity team for three years. She’s a great leader and captain – she took on that role wholeheartedly. She had a fantastic season.”

Diakite said she is planning to play basketball in college. Cal State Stanislaus and Cal State Dominguez Hills are two of the schools she is considering.

“I like to stay close to home,” Diakite said. “One of my coaches played (at CS Stanislaus) and she said she had a good experience there and I’m hoping for the same.”

Diakite said she would like to work in the medical field.

“My main interest is psychology, nursing or anything in the medical field,” she said. “My dad (Yaya) works in the medical field. The medical field will always have jobs and I’m hoping to make a good income.”

When she gets ready for a game, Diakite concentrates on the important business at hand.

“I just keep my positive thoughts,” said Diakite, who scored a season-high 30 points in a 39-36 win over Whittier. “I focus on the game and what I have to do to score and what I have to do to help my teammates score. I envision ourselves winning and don’t think about losing.”

Read more:  2013 All-Area Girls Basketball Team: El Rancho’s Khadidja Diakite tops Whittier Daily News picks

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2013 All-Area Boys Basketball Team: Cantwell Sacred Heart’s Jose Estrada tops Whittier Daily News picks

Cantwell High School’s Jose Estrada, who was selected as the Daily News boys basketball player of the year, at Cantwell High School in Montebello. (Keith Durflinger / Staff photographer)

Photo gallery: 2013 Whittier Daily News All-Area Basketball Team

Player of the Year: JOSE ESTRADA, Cantwell Sacred Heart forward, Senior

Jose Estrada ended his Cantwell Sacred Heart High School basketball career in impressive style.

The senior forward averaged 18.3 points per game in leading the Cardinals to the Camino Real League crown and a 20-10 overall record. He also sported averages of 6.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 steals per contest.

Estrada, who helped guide the Cardinals to last season’s CIF-Southern Section Division 4A championship game, nearly put together a repeat performance in lifting Cantwell to a Division 4A semifinal appearance. The Cardinals, who lost to Pacific Hills 65-42 in last year’s 4A final, nearly ousted the defending champion Bruins in the semifinals but fell short in a 52-51 defeat.

The Cardinals, because of their CIF-SS playoff run, qualified for the CIF State Division 4 tournament. Estrada ended his season on a strong note, scoring 23 points to lead the Cardinals in a 62-49 first-round loss to Army/Navy Academy.

For his efforts, Estrada was named the Daily News boys basketball player of the year for the second consecutive season.

Estrada, a transfer from Mexico who joined the Cardinals as a junior, said that one of his greatest moments he experienced from the 2012-13 season was his final regular season home game against league foe St. Paul.

With the league crown at stake, Estrada scored 30 points, pulled down seven rebounds and recorded seven assists to lead the Cardinals (9-1 in league) to a 76-46 victory over the Swordsmen. The triumph marked sweet revenge for Estrada and the Cardinals, who lost the first meeting to St. Paul 53-48. Estrada missed that game because of a hyperextended knee.

“It was very memorable because it was my senior night,” said Estrada of the win over St. Paul. “That’s why I played so good in that game.”

Another one of Estrada’s standout performances came in the Division 4A quarterfinals against St. Anthony. He scored a game-high 29 points to lift the Cardinals to a 62-58 win.

Estrada also recorded a season-high 38 points in a 56-51 triumph against El Cerrito.

Cardinals coach George Zedan praised Estrada’s prowess and ability on the court.

“Jose is a program-changer – there are no other words to describe it,” Zedan said. “He has the ability to score, the ability to pass and the ability to be such a presence on the court. It opens up things for the other guys. We appreciate the fact that we had him for a couple of years.”

Estrada played soccer before switching his focus to basketball.

“At first, I played soccer,” Estrada said. “Soccer is just for fun but basketball is more challenging. I decided to play basketball because it shows how you really are.”

Two of Estrada’s favorite memories occurred last year when the Cardinals advanced to the Division 4A final and when he scored 50 points in Cantwell’s 82-62 win over Ontario Christian in the 4A semifinals.

“I never experienced that in my life,” Estrada said of the Cardinals’ 2011-12 championship game appearance. “It was great.”

He added on the victory over Ontario Christian, “We were losing at the half and we really wanted to win. In the second half, I played like it was my last game.”

Estrada, who is considering the University of Hawaii and Washington State among other colleges, enjoyed his experiences with the Cardinals.

“They are like a family,” Estrada said of his teammates. “I want to thank all the people who supported me. The teachers and the community have always been there for me.”

Read more:  2013 All-Area Boys Basketball Team: Cantwell Sacred Heart’s Jose Estrada tops Whittier Daily News picks 

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High School Baseball: El Rancho strikes early in victory over Santa Fe

El Rancho’s Frank Vargas slides safely around the tag of Santa Fe’s Eddie Fournier during Friday’s Del Rio League game. (Keith Durflinger / Staff Photographer)

Photo gallery: El Rancho-Santa Fe baseball

By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer

PICO RIVERA – El Rancho High School did not need any late-game heroics in its Del Rio League game Friday against visiting Santa Fe.

After scoring four seventh-inning runs in a 5-2 win Wednesday at Santa Fe, the Dons took control quickly Friday and went on to defeat the Chiefs 9-1.

Senior third baseman Dylan Guzman drove in a team-high five runs to pace El Rancho. Guzman’s biggest hit was a grand-slam home run in the fourth inning, which put the game out of reach.

Senior starting pitcher Nick Vasquez was also a major contributor, throwing five scoreless innings. He allowed six hits, one walk and struck out three.

Friday’s triumph allowed the Dons (12-5 overall, 6-1 league) to keep sole possession of first place in the Del Rio.

“We’re very fortunate to have very good guys who work hard every day in practice,” El Rancho coach Frank Llanes said. “They really have each other’s backs.”

Llanes, in praising the Dons pitching, added, “This is the deepest staff we’ve had in a long time.”

He also credited the team’s defense, which includes catcher Frank Vargas, first baseman Anthony Herrera, second baseman Joe Sanchez, shortstop David Corrales and Guzman.

All of the above are seniors.

Sophomore outfielder Eli Ledesma drove in the only run for Santa Fe (6-11, 2-5).

“We ran into a buzzsaw in El Rancho,” Chiefs coach Pierre Romo said. “They are playing good ball together and they will be tough to beat down the road.”

El Rancho seized momentum instantly by scoring four runs in the bottom of the first, which started with senior outfielder-pitcher Julian Vizcarra’s infield single.

After Sanchez drew a one-out walk, junior outfielder Esteban Solis loaded the bases when he delivered a base hit to center.

The Dons then grabbed a 2-0 lead when Vargas and Guzman reached base on back-to-back walks. Vasquez followed by helping his own cause by producing a two-run single to left.

El Rancho seized control by scoring five runs in the fourth inning.

Junior infielder Steve Patino led-off the frame with a single to right and then stole second. After a walk to Corrales and Sanchez’s single loaded the bases, Solis delivered a run-scoring single to right.

A two-out walk to Vargas set the stage for Guzman, who cleared the bases with a grand-slam home run.

“We’re working hard in practice,” Guzman said. “Every day, we do our best and come game time, it’s no problem for us.”

Guzman added on his grand-slam, “The first strike I saw, I put the bat on the ball.”

The Chiefs broke El Rancho’s shutout bid in the sixth, which began with sophomore catcher Eddie Fournier’s line-drive single to right. Fournier then scored on Ledesma’s base hit to left.

Nine players produced at least a hit for El Rancho, which finished with 11.

The Dons pitching duo of Vasquez and Marcus Price held the Chiefs to eight hits, which were all singles.


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High School Baseball: La Serna takes season series with win

By John Sherrard, Correspondent

WHITTIER – The dust has finally settled on the California and La Serna high school baseball teams’ three-game Del Rio League series.

And what a series it was.

The teams played to a 6-6 tie last month and Wednesday, La Serna edged the Condors, 1-0.

On Friday, La Serna scored two runs in the fifth inning, breaking a 4-4 tie, and defeated visiting California 6-4 to remain in the hunt for first place in league with El Rancho

El Rancho remains a half-game in front of La Serna (10-6-2, 5-1-1) after beating Santa Fe 9-1 Friday.

“We had a lot of guys clutch up, hitting-wise,” La Serna coach Anthony Gonzales Jr. said. “You can’t just pick one guy.”

Lancers sophomore starting pitcher Preston Brown allowed only one base runner on an infield single by junior Jesse Perdomo in the first four innings before faltering in the fifth when California (10-6-1, 4-2-1) scored four runs.

Leading the way for La Serna was junior catcher Mark Abbate with two hits, a run scored and an RBI.

Senior center fielder Kyle Goethe had a big hit in the third for the Lancers – a three-run, two-out double that gave La Serna a 3-0 lead.

“Kyle has just been tremendous all year long. He has been very consistent and even-keel and came up huge again,” Gonzales said.

Goethe scored the fourth run on a single to left by Abbate.

“It’s a great win for the team,” Goethe said. “It was a huge series for us. It feels great. I’m just so happy right now.”

The Condors finally broke through with four runs of their own in the fifth inning, on five hits, to tie the game, 4-4.

Junior Robert Blount started the hit parade with a single to center, followed by another single from Robert Barraza (2 for 3, run scored) and senior Jesse Oropeza drove in Blount for the first run.

Barraza and Oropeza came in on RBI singles by shortstop Anthony Von Slomski (2 for 3, RBI) and senior catcher Daniel Marquez, respectively. Von Slomski came in for the fourth run on an infield error.

La Serna answered with two go-ahead runs in the bottom half of the inning to lead 6-4.

Goethe walked, went to third on a single to left by Abbate and came home on a single from first baseman Ryan Cordova. Brandon Ramos, who pinch ran for Abbate, scored an insurance run for La Serna on an infield out.

Junior Gavin Calender picked up his second save in the last two games, closing out the seventh inning.

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