Los Banos High baseball coach Pat Fuentes saw the talent in Trent Mallonee and Kody Cardoza early, pulling both up to the varsity team as freshmen two years ago.
So Fuentes isn’t surprised by their success as juniors this year.
Mallonee and Cardoza helped lead the Tigers to the Western Athletic Conference championship with a 9-1 record. Mallonee was named the WAC Most Valuable Player and Cardoza was selected as the WAC Pitcher of the Year.
“I’ve been lucky with those two,” said Fuentes, who also was named the WAC Coach of the Year.
Mallonee is one of the leaders on the team. He plays shortstop and bats leadoff.
“He’s one of those kids that makes coaching fun,” Fuentes said.
Mallonee hit .500 this season with 23 of his 44 hits going for extra bases. The junior finished with 10 doubles and 12 triples. He scored 39 runs and added 26 RBIs.
“Trent brings it every day at practice, he brings it every day in games,” Fuentes said. “He shows how the type of player he is when he performs and produces every game.”
Cardoza went 6-2 on the mound with a 0.80 ERA. The right-hander struck out 72 batters in 61 and 2/3 innings.
“Every time that kid takes the mound we feel we have a chance to win,” Fuentes said. “We expect a lot of him and he’s always up to the challenge.”
The other major WAC award went to Livingston’s Maddux Ballenger, who was named the Offensive Player of the Year. Ballenger hit .276 with three home runs and 28 RBIs for the Wolves.
The Tigers had three players named to the all-WAC first team in pitcher Sebastian Luna, catcher Chase Wilson and outfielder Tre Augustine.
Pacheco also had three players selected to the first team in shortstop Aric Barton, third baseman Sebastian Bojorquez and outfielder Shane Barton.
The rest of the first team was comprised of Livingston’s Sergio Torres and Cesar Avila, Patterson’s Ronin Taylor, Ceres’ Brock DeWitt and Central Valley’s Alex Solis.
The second team selections included: Cooper Winton (Livingston), Josh Pernetti (Ceres), Jack Aragona (Los Banos), Kaleb Gabriel (Los Banos), Julian Perez (Livingston), Vince Alvarez (Los Banos), Alex Martinez (Pacheco), Eric Cashen (Patterson), Eddie Jacquez (Pacheco), Antonio Gonzalez (Pacheco), Landon Ramos (Los Banos) and Jamie Chavez (Patterson).