FARMINGTON — Isaiah Valdez was a three-sport star at Piedra Vista, but it's baseball that will keep his athletic career alive in college.
Valdez committed on July 11 to pitch for Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher, Ariz.
The PV reliever said former Panthers teammate Jeremy Johnson and 4-Corners member David Montoya, who both are committed to EAC, convinced him the school was the place to play after Valdez considered four or five junior colleges.
"They told me it's a good team and a good college. It's just an ideal baseball town," Valdez said.
Valdez also credited PV head coach and 4C manager Mike McGaha for helping him find a school where he could continue playing.
"He told me that if I wanted to go play in college that he'd help me out. He gave me the opportunities to go play and helped out a lot," Valdez said of McGaha.
The Panthers' coach said Valdez has the physical tools to be a good closer or middle reliever in college now that he's focused on one sport.
"It takes an exceptional student-athlete to play three sports. I think he understands what it takes to be the best," McGaha said. "We've encouraged him to follow his heart. He was the starting quarterback in football and a starter in basketball. That's why he struggled to get in the flow within the program a little, but he got better and better in the summer. Once he gets on as a full-time baseball player, he's a big kid with a big arm, and the sky's the limit."
During high school, Valdez wasn't sure which, if any, of his three sports would get him into college, but he always hoped it would be baseball.
"I played three sports, went out there and had fun," he said. "I always dreamed of playing college baseball and just had that passion for baseball. I'm glad I get to go play and don't have to hang up the cleats yet."
Eastern Arizona is coming off a difficult season in which the Gila Monsters finished in last place at 15-37 in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference.
Valdez said he's ready to go into the EAC program and contribute in any way possible.
"I've got to have confidence going into college. They have you there for a reason, and you've got to get it done," he said.