ALL-CENTRAL COAST SECTION
Player of the Year
STEVEN ZOBAC, VALLEY CHRISTIAN
A junior at the time, Steven Zobac was throwing wiffle balls one day in practice when Valley Christian coach John Diatte took notice of the potential pitching ability of his starting right fielder. The rest, as they say, became history as the Cal-bound Zobac became the premier multi-tool player in the Central Coast Section, leading the Warriors to three straight CCS Open Division titles in the process.
Zobac ended up logging 90 innings on the mound over the past two seasons, allowing just two earned runs in his high school career. His two-year pitching marks of a 10-1 record with a 0.15 ERA and eight saves are incredible enough, especially having notched 107 strikeouts in that same span. Combine it with his .465 batting average this season, with five home runs, 12 doubles, 28 runs scored, 11 stolen bases and 23 RBIs, and his recognition as the section’s top player is a no-brainer. Throw in his 30 walks, which resulted in a .622 on-base percentage and a 1.424 OPS, and you get the overall picture of a well-rounded player, all while competing in the rugged West Catholic Athletic League, where he faced elite pitching on a regular basis.
“Steven was the big cog in the wheel for us, and he allowed us to do what we did,” Diatte said. “The way he stepped up to give us big innings this year was huge.”
Of course, there is also Zobac’s ability to perform in clutch situations for the Warriors. Amazingly, he had the game-winning at-bats in the section title game as both a junior and senior. As a junior, he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in a tie game with Los Gatos, forcing in the winning run in a walk-off victory. As a senior, his two-run double in the title game against Mitty provided the only runs in a 2-0 victory.
“I won’t be surprised to see him in the big leagues one day,” Diatte added. “He is an amazing outfielder, one who runs well, gets a great jump on balls and is just tremendous all-around defensively. And, of course, he is tremendous offensively as well.”
Zobac even made his power at the plate known regularly in batting practice at Valley Christian, hitting a house which sits behind the Warriors’ outfield fence with his many deep shots. And yet his biggest contributions as a senior arguably came on the pitching mound. After pitching 30 innings as a junior, all in relief, he took the ball as a starter down the stretch in 2019. He did not allow a run – earned or unearned – in his final six appearances of the season.
That final stretch included a complete game shutout over Saint Francis in the WCAL tournament, then the maximum 10 innings in the one week of the CCS Open Division playoffs. Zobac made full use of those 10 innings, tossing six shutout innings and allowing just one hit in a 4-0 win over Palo Alto in the section quarterfinals, then throwing four no-hit innings in the 2-0 win over Mitty, while also providing the game-winning hit.
For his efforts throughout this season, we are pleased to recognize Steven Zobac as the Prep2Prep Central Coast Section Player of the Year.
Other players considered include Monterey’s Michael Carnazzo, Mitty’s Nick Yorke and Palo Alto’s Josh Kasevich.
Coach of the Year
JOHN DIATTE, VALLEY CHRISTIAN
There is scheduling tough, and then there is what Valley Christian and head coach John Diatte did to open their 2019 season. The Warriors opened the year by losing two of their first three games, but those games came against eventual Texas 6A state champion Carroll-Southlake and Southern California powerhouse Orange Lutheran, and included a split against Carroll. Those early tests would prove to be a launching pad for a successful defense of the Warriors’ WCAL and CCS championships.
“The guys on this team knew they could be as good or better than the year before,” said Diatte, who reached 650 wins for his coaching career. “We are always going to have great players graduate and leave the program, but we have a lot of kids fighting for spots and playing time. They are willing to compete and be good teammates. This is an amazing clubhouse.”
One of the big questions going into the year would be figuring out who would handle the bulk of the innings on the mound, especially after the graduation of 2018 standouts Patrick Wicklander and Kevin Pence. The quartet of William Kempner, Steven Zobac, Eddie Park and Jonathan Cymrot had all been successful in limited stints the previous season, and Diatte slotted them perfectly in 2019, balancing the majority of the starter innings between Zobac and Cymrot, while using Kempner in a variety of ways on the mound, a strategy which paid off when teams were forced to play more than two games in a week on multiple occasions this year due to an extended rainy season.
“Whatever pitching role we could find for William, that was where we used him,” Diatte said. “Those guys stepping up to give us big innings was huge this year. We needed to see them mature into those roles.”
That doesn’t mean the year was not without its hiccups. Unlike the 2018 team, which stormed through its schedule and was considered by many to be the top team in the state, this edition of the Warriors battled some adversity in its quest for another section crown. Top senior infielder Nick Marinconz was lost to injury in the first league game of the season, and would not be able to return. But even that setback provided a silver lining, as sophomore Trevor Haskins slid over from third base, and Valley Christian will now have an entire infield returning in 2020 after starting four underclassmen for the remainder of the year.
The results on the field were not always in Valley Christian’s favor this season, either. After winning 11 straight games, a stretch which included the title in the Mike Hazlett Tournament and four straight wins in WCAL play by shutout, the Warriors lost two of three games in late March and early April. But a 1-0 loss to Serra would be the last time that Valley Christian would taste defeat.
Non-league games against Los Gatos and Santa Cruz both went to extra innings in late April, including a 1-0, 12-inning affair with Santa Cruz. Then there was the 3-2 win over Mitty in the WCAL tournament championship, which served to be a preview of the CCS Open Division title game. As it turned out, weather forced all three playoff games to occur in the same week, which played into the pitching strategy used all year by Diatte, utilizing the trio of Zobac, Cymrot and Kempner to perfection, including a 2-0 win over Mitty for the section title.
As for Diatte, he isn’t ready to set any timetable on his coaching career, as he now stares at the possibility of reaching 700 wins in the next couple seasons.
“Milestones are obviously important, but it also means I am just really old. They also become fun along the way. This is what I do, and it is fun. As long as our players are abiding by the Warrior baseball culture, then I am all in,” Diatte said. “My assistant coaches are also the ones who make this possible. Having three assistants who are former head coaches in the CCS is tremendous.”
For his efforts throughout this season, we are pleased to recognize John Diatte as the Prep2Prep Central Coast Section Coach of the Year.
Other coaches considered include Monterey’s Michael Groves, Mitty’s Brian Yocke, Santa Cruz’s Dustin Torchio, King’s Academy’s Greg Mugg, Los Gatos’ Nate Anderson and Los Altos’ Gabe Stewart.
FIRST TEAM ALL-CCS
Trevor Allen, Los Gatos
Allen went 9-2 for the Wildcats, winning his first nine decisions before a 1-0 loss to Palo Alto. Top performances for the first-team SCVAL-De Anza selection include complete game shutouts in wins over Palo Alto, Wilcox and Mountain View.
Josh Kasevich, Palo Alto
The Oregon commit and first-team SCVAL-De Anza selection hit .407 with two home runs and 10 doubles for the Vikings, scoring 29 runs. He also went 5-1 on the mound with a 0.52 ERA, striking out 48 batters in 40 innings pitched.
Joseph King, Woodside
The Washington State commit and PAL-Ocean Player of the Year hit .476 with three home runs, 14 doubles and 29 RBIs for the Wildcats while also going 5-4 with a 1.51 ERA on the mound, striking out 102 batters in 51 innings pitched.
Steven Zobac, Valley Christian
The Cal commit and WCAL Player of the Year did everything for the Warriors. He hit .465 with five home runs and 12 doubles, walked 30 times to rack up a .622 on-base percentage and went 6-1 with a miniscule 0.23 ERA on the mound and four saves.
SECOND TEAM ALL-CCS
Mitchell Dowd, Leigh
The Pitcher of the Year in the BVAL-Mt. Hamilton, Dowd won seven of his final eight decisions to finish the year 7-3 with a 2.40 ERA, throwing five complete games and striking out 53 batters in the process.
Clayton Ray, Santa Cruz
The SCCAL Pitcher of the Year, Ray went 4-1 with a 1.10 ERA, with multiple no-decisions, including an impressive eight-inning shutout stint against Valley Christian where he struck out six and allowed just two hits. For the season, he struck out 61 batters in 57 innings and allowed just 37 hits.
Dominic Quinones, Archbishop Mitty
The overall record is misleading for this first-team all-WCAL selection, who went 6-4 with a 1.60 ERA and five complete games. Three of his four losses came to Valley Christian or JSerra Catholic, and the other loss came in a 1-0 game. His last start was a four-hit shutout over Saint Francis.
Aidan Berger, Palo Alto
The left-handed hitting Berger made a huge impact at and behind the plate for the Vikings, hitting .432 with seven doubles and 18 RBIs to help lead Paly to the Open Division. He also had a home run and three RBIs in the SCVAL-De Anza title game win over Wilcox.
Jack McGrew, Valley Christian
The first-team all-WCAL selection hit .306 with 22 RBIs and 12 stolen bases for the Warriors, and was especially stellar defensively, committing just three errors in 117 chances for the year, with none of them occurring during league play or the post-season.
THIRD TEAM ALL-CCS
Jason Korjeff (Carlmont), Hunter Hanes (Pacific Grove), Devin Meyer (Capuchino), Chas Brown (Monterey), James Hoyt (Mountain View), Jordan Yeager (San Benito), Nathan Chapman (Salinas), David Eichhorn (Aptos)
Jason Siri (Valley Christian), Cooper Callison (Ann Sobrato)
Connor Leaverton (Archbishop Mitty), Jacob Dressler (Branham), Izeyas Galindo (Saint Francis), Glenallen Hill, Jr. (Santa Cruz), Trevor Haskins (Valley Christian), Justin Heyn (Pacific Grove), Brady Miguel (San Benito), Jabin Trosky (Carmel)
Coleman Brigman (Valley Christian), Ben Parker (Los Altos), Matt Mendosa (Gilroy), Reymello Murphy (Archbishop Mitty), Jeremy Villar (Serra), Connor Hennings (Live Oak), Luke Keaschall (Aptos))
Andru Holguin (Soledad), Jack Dyke (St. Ignatius), Brady Chavez (Santa Cruz), Justin Nam (Menlo)
Shane Callison, Justin Rashed
Nathaniel Brouse, Jack Bollengier
Andrew DelBiaggio, Rory Bradford
Max Orkin, Carson Ledesma
David Bedrosian, Tyler DeSmidt
JT Byrne, Rowan Trosky
Jack Tomlinson, Jake Ornelas
CRYSTAL SPRINGS UPLAND:
HALF MOON BAY:
Daniel Guevara, Jack Mettan
Zach Hoffman, Andrew Chavez
Jeremy Chong, Will Garratt
Curran Ozawa-Burns, Ryan Yi
Calvin Louie, Luke Mar
Emelio Vinopiola, Jeffrey Taylor
Jack Lewis Miller
Jace Albro, Kyle Hartmanis
Michael Mugan, Justin Deal
MONTE VISTA CHRISTIAN:
Roddy McGee, Jared Norris
Steve Soto, Jr.
NORTH MONTEREY COUNTY:
Jose Garcia, Jesus Quiroz
Josh Mares, Kevahn Ebron
Jon Jon Berring, JT Amaral
Zander Darby, Hyunwoo Roh
SACRED HEART CATHEDREAL:
Keshawn Ogans, Lucas Kelly
SACRED HEART PREP:
Ryan Mo, Ronan Donnelly
Gianluca Shinn, Petey Halpin
Marcus Aranda, Moises Salazar
SAN LORENZO VALLEY:
Alex Williams, Kinsal Plunkett
Ben Singler, JP Boyle
Dominic Meza, Benito Valle-Jhanda
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO:
Erik Leonor, George Guzman
ST. FRANCIS SCP:
Collin McCarthy, Colin Clifford
Dawson Brigman, Steven Hom
Paul M Rosa
AJ Santamaria, Isaac Munoz
Max Moreno, Owen Crevelt