FARMINGTON — After an up-and-down start to the 2016 high school baseball season, Piedra Vista’s Orlan Warren showed major improvement in the final weeks, snagging the attention of multiple college programs.
Warren’s journey through his senior season — from struggling with confidence to becoming a dominant force on the mound — culminated today when he signed a national letter of intent to play for the University of the Southwest.
Warren said similarities between PV's baseball program and the one at the University of the Southwest under head coach Steve Appel made him feel comfortable with the decision.
“Coach Appel is really similar to coach (Mike) McGaha in his philosophy. The way (Appell) talked about working hard and managing the work reminded me of coach McGaha,” Warren said.
The University of the Southwest is a private college in Hobbs. The Mustangs compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Red River Athletic Conference and finished the 2016 season 19-36. Warren said he plans to major in kinesiology in the fall.
At the start of the season, Warren struggled with self-confidence, at times lacking trust in the defense playing behind him. McGaha said the issues were evident through the first couple of months of the season, but in the second half of PV’s District 1-5A schedule, Warren turned a corner and improved.
“In my opinion, he was the difference in the district championship, and he was the difference in getting us to the state semifinal game, which was a step closer than we were last year,” McGaha said of Warren. “He was the guy who bridged the gap for the program during the 2016 season.”
Warren’s used daily reminders to overcome his issues on the mound, writing things like "confidence" and "trust," as well as other reminders, inside the bill of his hat, which allowed him to look up and see the words during a game.
McGaha said Warren’s desire to overcome his personal struggles gave him that "x-factor."
“He competes within himself, and because of that, he becomes a better competitor than the kids he’s facing. That’s what sets him apart from the rest,” McGaha said, adding that the player is "on a short list for the best teammate any of the Panthers have ever had."
Part of what sets Warren apart is his willingness to buy into the coaches’ philosophy and goals for the team. And Warren said he will bring the mindset he had at PV to the Mustangs.
“I’m going to carry the same mentality and the philosophy that (PV’s) program is built on. It’s not just about baseball; it’s about putting yourself out there and gaining a better perspective on life,” Warren said. “Things are bigger than baseball, and I’m going to take that mindset and philosophy with me.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.