Gaona in the Game: Ex-Lancer Serrano is on college's top-ranked baseball team

2013-02-15T00:00:00Z Gaona in the Game: Ex-Lancer Serrano is on college's top-ranked baseball teamDaniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star
February 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Two years ago today, Joe Serrano was getting set for his senior season with the Salpointe Catholic baseball team.

He went on to finish that year with a .541 batting average, a state-record 26 doubles, 69 RBIs and 11 home runs.

He didn't stop there.

Serrano is now playing for the top-ranked college team in the country.

Arkansas opens its season today at home against Western Illinois. Serrano, a right-handed batter, or freshman Willie Schwanke, a left-hander, will be the starting DH.

Serrano is heading into his sophomore year at Arkansas with high hopes of returning to the College World Series.

Last year, the former Lancers standout batted .333 in 33 games for the Razorbacks and had six multi-hit games.

He started in all four CWS games for Arkansas and hit .385. He had a three-hit performance in an 8-1 win over Kent State, his first game at Omaha's T.D. Ameritrade Park.

"It's been a great experience and I feel really blessed," Serrano told me Thursday in a phone interview.

Serrano, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 2011 but did not sign, split time between left field and designated hitter last season and is in line to do the same this year.

How much defensive action Serrano gets this year depends on how everyone else performs on the field. Serrano said he's ready and available to fill in for anyone in the event of a slump, but he isn't too concerned.

"Very confident all three of our outfielders are going to get the job done," Serrano said.

Salpointe baseball coach Danny Preble said that's essentially the same approach Serrano had as a Lancer. And now that he's got a year under his belt in the Southeastern Conference, Preble said Serrano can make even more of an impact.

"Wherever they ask him to play, he's going to give them his all and play the best he can," Preble said. "He'll give it 140 percent."

Serrano said his personal highlight of last season was the NCAA Super Regional against Baylor. After losing to the Bears 8-1 in the first game, the Razorbacks won back-to-back games to advance to Omaha.

"It's every player's dream," Serrano said, "to get drafted or go to the College World Series."

So far, Serrano has experienced both.

Cowboy Up baseball tourney is scheduled for next week

Seventeen teams will kick off their baseball season at next week's Ideal Physical Therapy Cowboy Up Classic. The tournament starts with two games Wednesday at 4 p.m. and will be held at Kino Sports Complex South, Fields 4, 5, 6 and 7.

The championship game will be at Field No. 5 on Saturday at 3 p.m..

Sahuaro boys are seeking 3rd straight bowling title

Sahuaro's bowling club will be going for its third straight state championship Saturday, when it takes on Glendale Deer Valley for the third year in a row at the AMF Deer Valley at 1 p.m.

The team is made up of seven members. It's led by juniors Bryan Van Sickle and Tim Jacob, who both average about 215 a game.

The Cougars swept both the boys and girls state titles last year but Cienega is representing Southern Arizona on the girls side this season.

Palo Verde's Stokes signs

Palo Verde star soccer forward Jasmine Stokes officially signed her letter of intent to play at California Baptist on Thursday. Stokes, who scored 137 goals as a Titan, was also a member of the Tucson Soccer Acadamy team that had 17 players sign to play at the next level.

Lancers football to open season in Las Vegas

The Salpointe football team will play Liberty High School of Henderson, Nev., in the season-opening Sollenberger Classic on Aug. 17 at Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School. Gorman will host Phoenix Mountain Pointe the night before.

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