St. Francis High junior Nash Horton was named the Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division's co-Most Valuable Player for the 2024 baseball season. (Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian)

St. Francis High junior Nash Horton missed the 2023 baseball season due to a major injury to his pitching shoulder. 

While still in an arm sling, he was told to jot down any goals he had in mind. 

What started as a short list turned into a full page of where he wanted to be by the end of the 2023 summer up until the final game of the 2024 regular season. 

That piece of paper hung on his wall. Slowly but surely the checkmarks began to appear next to the three most important goals: be the league’s most valuable player, bat at a .400 average, and hit three-plus home runs. 

“According to God’s plan, I was able to accomplish all three and I’m incredibly grateful for that,” Horton said. 

Earlier this week, the Sharks’ star player was named the Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division’s co-Most Valuable Player for the 2024 season.

Horton will share top honors with Carmel High senior JJ Sanchez and sophomore Matt Maxon.

It was a special moment for Horton, who said it also meant a lot to his parents because they’ve dedicated a lot of time and money into his recovery, life and baseball career.

“I was super excited because I worked really hard, especially after last year where I couldn’t play the season with my shoulder being hurt and all,” Horton said. “It was a moment for me to reflect on how far I’ve come from being out for the season to now. I’m proud of where I’ve got to, but I still have a lot ahead of me and a lot of goals I still need to reach.”

St. Francis coach Ken Nakagawa said the award was well deserved for Horton, who was coming off an injury that could’ve ended his career.

“For him to put in all the work that he did and how hard he’s worked to get to that point is extremely, I’m sure, gratifying for him,” Nakagawa said. “But more importantly, it just shows how hard the kid’s worked. Extremely impressive.”

Going into the 2024 campaign, Horton said he had to show what he was capable of in the Gabilan Division—which is the top tier of the four divisions within the PCAL.

“I knew I had to come in this year and prove myself and solidify my spot as one of the best players,” he said.

Horton batted a .489 average (45-for-92) with three home runs, three triples, 10 doubles, nine walks, 33 RBIs, 33 runs scored and 23 stolen bases, according to statistics on the MaxPreps website.

On defense, he spent most of his time behind home plate as one of the Sharks’ primary catchers. Horton had 164 putouts and 23 assists with 14 double plays in 188 total chances, while gunning down four base runners who attempted to steal a base.   

The school year just ended for Horton but he’s already heading off to Phoenix in a couple of weeks to play for the Trosky Baseball National team. 

“I’m a big competitor. I hate losing more than I love winning,” he said. “My drive to get better is I know when I do the little stuff right, I could go and give myself the best chance to win.” 

Another big motivating factor for Horton is always wanting to be the best person he can be, and having good integrity. He said not only is he representing himself, but it’s representing the school and his family. 

“It takes a lot of work to do that mentally and physically,” Horton said. 

Horton always strives to be successful, yet this year’s team was also important to him. He said putting in the work is what made the Sharks better, and his teammates motivated him to be the best.

“You can ask any of the guys on the roster, this team meant a lot to each and every one of us,” Horton said. “And our bond was as strong as a bond gets. We’re like a family. This team was really bigger than baseball.”

Horton had a great supporting cast with players such as Micah Cervantes, Javier Fonseca, Pedro Ibarra and Trey Silva—who all earned All-PCAL First Team honors. 

“It easily could have been somebody else as well,” Nakagawa said of his players winning the Gabilan Division’s top honor. “But for [Horton] to get it, it’s extremely satisfying as a coach to see somebody that’s worked extremely hard to come back. Not only on the baseball field, but in the classroom and off campus, as well.”

Horton and the Sharks came up short of their end of the season goal of going on a Central Coast Section title run. They were eliminated in the opening round of the Division II playoffs following a 16-4 loss to The King’s Academy.  

Horton said he wants to make sure everybody knows that the playoff loss didn’t define who they were as a team, it just made the Sharks hungrier.  

“There’s no reason to not be proud of where we are at,” he said. “I just want to, for me, use it as motivation for next year.” 

2024 All-PCAL Baseball

Gabilan Division

Most Valuable Players

Nash Horton, St. Francis

Matt Maxon, Carmel 

JJ Sanchez, Carmel

First team

Nash Horton, St. Francis

Matt Maxon, Carmel

JJ Sanchez, Carmel

Wyatt Barton, Hollister

Johnny Carnazzo, Palma

Micah Cervantes, St. Francis

Javier Fonseca, St. Francis

Pedro Ibarra, St. Francis

Justin LeMaster, Carmel

Zander Lunt, Carmel

Trey Silva, St. Francis

Nate Wedderburn, Monterey

Carter Wright, Monte Vista Christian

Second team

Brody Edmunds Pacific Grove

Jackson Everett, Monterey

Bo Iandoli, Carmel

Jordan Isla, Salinas

Bubba Martinez, Palma

Daniel Martinez, Hollister

Bixby Moranda, Carmel

Cooper Palmer, Salinas

Rocco Razzecca, Palma

Steph Russo, Monterey

Kaleb Shannan, Palma

Nate Vasquez, Salinas

Breyden Watkins, Hollister

Richard Chamberlin All-Sportsmanship Team

Ben Tucker, Carmel

Celso Lopez, Hollister

Evan Takehara, Monterey

Mikie Melenudo, Monte Vista

Kyle Lavin, Pacific Grove

Diego Villarreal, Palma

Nick Rianda, Salinas

Nick Fantl, St. Francis

Eligie Belizio Sportsmanship team

Pacific Grove

Mission Division

Most Valuable Players 

Andrew Nichols, Soledad

Xavier Mendez, Alisal

Pitcher of the Year  

Manny Gutierrez, Greenfield

First team

Xavier Mendez, Alisal

Andrew Nichols, Soledad

Manny Gutierrez, Greenfield

Amani Wilson, Stevenson

Ayden Ramirez, Alvarez

Adam Morris, Rancho San Juan

Isaiah Andrade, Alisal

Reggie Bell, Stevenson

Josh Degroodt, North Salinas

Anikan Tavarez, Soledad

Phinn Thomas, Stevenson

Daniel Valenzuela, Soledad

Vidal Perez, Soledad

Second team

Ayden Munoz, Rancho San Juan

Noah Nelson, Rancho San Juan

Jose Aguirre, King City

Sean Ishii, Stevenson

Vince Barajas, North County

Ivan Chavez, Alvarez

Jay Serrato, Alisal

Brady Legions, Watsonville

Tyler Baldwin, North County

Julian Hanson, Alvarez

Tony Pantoja, Greenfield

Andrew Raya, Soledad

Aiden Rodriguez, Watsonville

Richard Chamberlin All-Sportsmanship Team

Jesus Cervantes, Rancho San Juan

Chase Whittman, Soledad

Isaiah Garcia, Alvarez

Alexander Loredo, Alisal

Jake Burkhardt, North Salinas

Mateo Lopez, Watsonville

Andrew Airada, Stevenson

Gerado Rangel, King City

Damien Martinez, Greenfield

Eligie Belizio Sportsmanship team 

North Monterey County

Cypress Division

Player of the Year

Joseph Acosta, Gonzales

Offensive Player of the Year

Jayden Valero, Seaside

Defensive Player of the Year

Gary Salmeri, Seaside

First team

Joseph Acosta, Gonzales

Jonathan Ybarra, Gonzales

Ivan Pantoja, Gonzales

Daniel Mendez, Gonzales

Adrain Perez, Gonzales

Jayden Valero, Seaside

Gary Salmeri, Seaside

Taylor Rice, Seaside

Leo Alvardo, Marina

Kaleb True, Marina

Juan Moreno, Pajaro Valley

Pablo Moreno, Pajaro Valley

Second team

Noah Flores, Gonzales

Manuel Perea, Gonzales

Ethan Vasquez, Seaside

Noah Deleon, Seaside

Giovanni Moriel, Pajaro Valley

Alex Acosta, Pajaro Valley

Richard Chamberlin All-Sportsmanship Team

Jericho Ryan, Marina

Julius Vallalobos, Gonzales

Brandon Moreno, Pajaro Valley

Cesar Vargas, Seaside

Elgie Bellizio Sportsmanship team

Pajaro Valley

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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