CASA GRANDE — The college recruitment process for high school athletes can be fun and enjoyable, or daunting and something they want to get through quickly, as they try to find a school and athletic program that is the right fit for them.
Sometimes athletes find the right place almost instantly; other times it takes a few tries, but that’s just part of human nature, and it’s OK to change your mind.
Vista Grande shortstop Emilio Barreras had originally made a verbal commitment to Cal State Fullerton, but following the announcement of head coach Rick Vanderhook retiring and the changes that followed to the baseball program’s coaching staff, he decided to reopen his recruitment.
Prior to his verbal commitment, Barreras had already garnered interest from Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and Grand Canyon University.
The coaching staff at GCU, in head coach Andy Stankiewicz, and assistant coaches Gregg Wallis and Jon Wente, played a big role in Barreras picking the Lopes; another draw was the school’s academic program.
“It’s just a fun group to be a part of,” Barreras said. “I can’t really say anything bad about the education, either. School has always come first, so I think getting a good education and being around guys that love the game and want the absolute best for you is the place to go.”
Barreras is excited about staying in Arizona and being able to drive back to Casa Grande for a home-cooked meal.
“I’m for sure going to come home and eat some beans and some tortillas, and reload every weekend,” he said.
He added that he’s looking forward to putting in the work, and can’t wait until he’s able to step out on the field and showcase his talents.
“I can’t wait to show what I’ve got, and prove to myself and everyone that it’s possible no matter what,” Barreras said.
Through three seasons on the Vista Grande varsity team, Barreras has a career .500 batting average with 40 RBIs and 20 extra base hits.
He also has an impressive .926 fielding percentage and has only committed six errors.
This past season he saw a bit of time on the mound with 28 innings pitched in six appearances. He finished with a 3.50 ERA, 36 strikeouts and opponents batted .234 against him.
With his final season as a Spartan coming up in the spring, Barreras hoping the team can make another playoff push.
Vista Grande was knocked out in the quarterfinals of the 4A conference by Poston Butte 5-4.
“I’m expecting to make another playoff run and to help the team out, and help the young kids that are coming up,” he said. “I’m looking forward to leading the charge, and hopefully winning a state championship.”
Like many, the flashy and slick infielder has aspirations of making it to the big leagues.
However, if that dream doesn’t come true, the goal he has for his backup plan is equally impressive.
“I want to major in biology and hopefully become a pediatrician,” Barreras said. “I’ve always loved helping people, especially little kids. I truly believe that we need more support in that area to become a better town, a better state, a better country and an all-around better world. We need to help out kids and help them out to pursue their dreams.”