Gaona in the Game

Gaona in the Game: Verdugo primed for huge senior season

2013-08-30T00:00:00Z Gaona in the Game: Verdugo primed for huge senior seasonBy Daniel Gaona Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

As the 2013-14 high school sports season opens, I can make a few solid predictions about what the upcoming year will bring.

There’s one thing I can say with the utmost confidence: Alex Verdugo will be the best baseball player in Arizona.

He might even be one of the best in the country. In fact, you could really already say he is.

Verdugo, a senior left-handed pitcher and slugger for Sahuaro, was named the MVP of the National Team in Saturday’s Under Armour All-America game.

The event, which featured 36 of the best upperclassmen in the country, was held at Wrigley Field in Chicago and broadcast nationally on MLB Network.

“Just to be selected at first was an honor,” Verdugo said. “It’s a great experience and it’s great to know you’re the top of the top players out there.”

Verdugo doubled a one-hopper to the left field wall on the first pitch he saw. He also pitched a scoreless third inning, striking out Ryan Johnson, a 6-foot-3-inch 215-pound junior slugger from College Station, Texas.

“I was not nervous at all, surprisingly,” Verdugo said about game day. “I’ll get nervous in a high school game; I don’t know why I would but sometimes I do.

“But the All-America game just felt normal, it felt like I was supposed to be there. Everything was happening and I had control of it.”

If Verdugo’s first performance in a big-league park is only a minor preview of what’s to come, the possibilities surrounding him are limitless.

“This isn’t even my peak,” Verdugo said. “I feel like I’ve still got room to improve. I think I can get a lot better.”

Verdugo was marvelous as a junior: He went 10-0 on the mound and struck out 130 batters in 65 innings. At the plate, he batted .475 with 41 RBIs and seven home runs. The Arizona Baseball Coaches Association named him its Division II Player of the Year.

Verdugo, who has verbally committed to ASU, said the experience in Chicago was life-changing. Verdugo’s draft stock will certainly rise after his performance both in Chicago and at the Area Code Games earlier this summer.

“Going out there and stepping foot on Wrigley was awesome,” Verdugo said. “Having all the fans scream your name and try to get autographs was a different experience but definitely fun.”

Salpointe’s Quihuis appears in Sports Illustrated

Salpointe Catholic senior golfer and two-time individual state champion Krystal Quihuis was mentioned in the Faces in the Crowd segment of this week’s Sports Illustrated.

Quihius, who has verbally committed to the UA, was featured in the magazine for clinching a United States win with a birdie at the Junior Solheim Cup earlier this month. She also went 4-0 to lead the West over the East for the Wyndham Cup in July.

Lancers’ Deboskie selected

for All-America game

Kaelin Deboskie made a good impression on national TV last weekend when he caught three touchdown passes in the first quarter of Salpointe Catholic’s 48-7 win over Henderson (Nev.) Liberty in the Sollenberger Classic.

The senior transfer from Colleyville (Texas) Heritage was selected for the Blue-Grey All American Bowl, which will be played Jan. 11 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The game will be broadcast nationally by the Fox Sports networks.

Former NFL player Mark McMillian tweeted at Deboskie on Tuesday to let him know he was selected for the event, which is in its third year. Deboskie has offers from eight Division I schools, including the UA, ASU, Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

Hawks opener postponed

Tanque Verde will host Mesa Sequoia Charter on Saturday at noon instead of tonight at 7 because of field conditions.

Coach Jim Lawwill said the field flooded Thursday morning, causing them to push the game back a day.

Contact high school sports coordinator Daniel Gaona at dgaona@azstarnet.com or 807-7761. On Twitter @DanielGaona13

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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