ELOY — In the long list of graduated seniors from the 2020 Santa Cruz Valley championship football team, one other Dust Devil has decided to pursue an athletic career that does not involve wearing shoulder pads.
Sias Lopez will still wear a helmet however, as he announced his commitment to play baseball at Colorado Northwestern Community College in Rangely.
The other Dust Devils committed to play a college sport that is not football is Dylan Hukill, who signed with Parks University in Gilbert for track and field.
Lopez stated what really garnered his attention was the small-town atmosphere in Rangely and how similar it is to Eloy.
“It’s somewhat near Utah but it’s very small,” he said. “You can just feel the old school vibe around the school. The people around there are nice, they just really care about the kids and the sports. It’s just like home.”
Lopez was a four-year starter on the diamond for the Dust Devils and was officially listed as a first baseman, pitcher and outfielder but played other positions on the field when needed.
Usually during the college recruitment process, athletes commit to playing one position; especially pitchers but Lopez was recruited to play all three positions.
“I was just going to go for first base, but coach (Lou) McCollum told me that somedays I might be pitcher and somedays I might be outfielder,” he said. “I didn’t really see myself playing college ball, I was a little iffy but I’m here now and I’m ready for it.”
Santa Cruz reached the play-in round in the 2A Conference this year and fell 10-2 to Morenci. Lopez led the team offensively with a .571 batting average, 20 hits and 21 RBIs. Half of his hits were for extra bases.
Defensively he finished with a .957 fielding percentage, and on the mound, he tossed 19 1/3 innings with 23 strikeouts.
Along with playing baseball and football, Lopez also played basketball during the winter. He told PinalCentral that the other two sports were just to keep him active during the year while waiting for spring to come around.
“Baseball’s very competitive,” Lopez said. “It takes a lot of skill. It’s just very different from the other sports. I wanted to play college baseball.”
Originally, Lopez was looking at schools in Texas and California when Colorado Northwestern appeared out of the blue.
“They came and talked to me,” he said. “I was going to camps and putting a lot of film out. They contacted me; I wasn’t planning on going that far out. I did my research after they contacted me. Me and my family have been looking at the school and how their (baseball) program runs, we went for a tour and we thought it was a perfect fit.”
While the college is a long way from home, the Spartans play some of the Arizona community colleges like Central Arizona College and Pima Community College.
“I’m so excited to come back and play down here,” Lopez said. “I know there’s a lot of competition down here and I’m looking forward to it.”