There’s a youth movement afoot in the Modesto Metro Conference and Gregori High sophomore pitcher McKyla Nelson is leading the charge.
Nelson was voted the Most Valuable Player of the MMC by the conference’s coaches.
The Jaguars (12-0) captured their third title, running their league unbeaten streak to 25 games and counting. Gregori’s last MMC loss was to Enochs on May 4, 2015.
Since then, the Jaguars have dominated its older Modesto City Schools counterparts, relying on dominant pitching, superb coaching – Alannah Johns is the Coach of the Year – and a rich collection of talent.
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This spring was no different.
Gregori returned seven regulars from its historic Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal run in 2016, including Nelson, who developed in the shadow of former league MVP Madison Marsh, now a freshman at Delaware.
Nelson was joined by three teammates on the all-MMC first team, including: seniors Ashley McBay and Mehana Johns, and sophomore Alli McBay.
Johns and Ashley McBay will continue their playing careers at four-year universities. Johns is headed to Saint Mary’s in Moraga, where she may follow her parents into firefighting, and the oldest McBay has signed with Cal Baptist.
Nelson matured into an MVP thanks in part to the Johns sisters, Alannah and Mehana, each a classically trained catcher.
“I think (Mehana) does a great job letting her know that they’re in this together; that she’s not alone on the mound,” Alannah Johns said in an interview with The Bee earlier in the season. “She’s really stepped up, in terms of pushing McKyla and her teammates.”
Beyer finished second in the standings at 9-3 and earned a playoff date with defending Division III champion Ceres.
The Patriots also had three first-team selections: seniors Brittney Meyers, Destiny Guerrero and Jana Fontana.
Nelson wasn’t the only underclassman to earn a top award at the year-end coach’s meeting.
Enochs, third in the final standings at 8-4, was awarded two first-team selections, both sophomore. The Eagles were represented by Morgan Leonard and Raquel Chaidez.
Johansen’s Angelina Va’a rounded out the first team.
Receiving all-MMC second-team honors were: Downey sophomore Grace Christian and junior Jenaya Vasquez-Aguirre; Modesto freshman Hollee Travao; Enochs sophomores Bianca Benitez and Marin Gomes; Beyer sophomore True Virchis, junior Jessica Castro and senior Dani Ranzo; and Davis freshman Sheridan Gulley.
Earning an honorable mention were: Gregori’s Hannah Hoffman; Davis’ Sharionna Gray; Beyer’s Aaliyah Webb; Enochs’ Mackenzie Brown; Downey’s Sierra Harper; Modesto’s Marina Figueroa; and Johansen’s Lynette Gamboa.