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Santa Maria Sun / Athlete of the Week

The following article was posted on August 5th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 22 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 22

Babe Ruth All Stars

BY HENRY HOUSTON

For the first time in five years, the 15-year-old Santa Maria Babe Ruth All Stars qualified for the Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament. The team took second in the Central California State Tournament and is in the middle of the regional tourney with an eye on the championship.

“We’ve been hitting it hard since Tuesday (July 29). We’ve had two practices a day,” all stars’ coach George Heather said.

The team practices plays in the mornings, and in the evenings, works on light cardio and heads to the batting cages. Heather said he can’t credit a single standout player for the all stars’ successes, and credits the team as one great athletic entity, but to sum up the all stars’ strengths, he pointed to three players.

First, there’s Anthony Garcia, the team’s catcher.


PHOTO COURTESY OF GEORGE HEATHER

“He’s a clutch player, we have had to rely on him a lot,” Heather said. “He knocked two home runs over the fence during our district game.”

The limelight often overlooks the catcher, but Garcia’s OK with that. He’s sacrificed that limelight to ensure that his teammates get a morale boost when they need it.

“Players get frustrated easily,” Garcia said. “I just tell them, ‘You’ll get it next time.’ And this is helping us work together better.”

Then there’s second baseman Rafael Delgado. Much like Garcia, Delgado plays an important role on the team. He’s the All Stars’ lead batter.

All Delgado said he wants is to get on base right away to set up the next big play in a game. But in a district game against Orcutt, he did more than that. He sparked Santa Maria’s momentum with a home run. The game ended 15-3.

Lastly, there’s JoJo Gonzales, who’s gone from benchwarmer to being key in center field.

“Right after the state tournament, our center fielder quit the team, and Gonzales took the position,” coach Heather said.

It’s meant a big difference for Gonzales, and he’s determined to keep it that way.

“From being on the bench, hoping to get on the field, I don’t want to get off the field,” Gonzales said.

Heather said he’s come through for the team, stealing bases and hitting singles when it’s necessary. From bench player to field player, Heather knows it takes a whole team to win a game, and he also knows he’s got a pretty good one.