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Yuma baseball products headed to 4-year schools
Garcia moving to Arkansas State; Molina to play for New Mexico Higlands
Giovanni Garcia has thought more than once about what it would be like to play baseball for ASU.
He'll get a chance to live that dream next spring, just not at Arizona State University.
The Kofa High and Arizona Western College product is heading east to NCAA Division I school Arkansas State University to display his baseball talents and complete his college career. AWC teammate and Cibola High grad Jorge Molina also has signed on to continue playing baseball with Division II power New Mexico Highlands.
"It's exciting because I can continue my education and play baseball, and for me to keep doing both those things and to know where I'm going feels good," Garcia said. "I'm very grateful to the AWC program and coach (John) Stratton to get me this far."
Garcia, a transfer from South Mountain Community College, stood out for the Matadors while much of the team struggled offensively, leading AWC in hits (65), runs (41) on-base percentage (.451) and stolen bases (18).
Garcia had committed to the Red Wolves program back in May with head coach Keith Kessinger. Kessinger, however, resigned in June, and the university hired Mississippi State assistant Tommy Raffo July 1 to take over the program.
"I was looking forward to playing with Kessinger, but I've talked to new coach and nothing has changed," he said. "They told me I'm going to make an immediate impact, so I'm looking forward to trying my hardest. I kind of liked playing with wood bats, but metal is much easier."
Molina becomes part of the pipeline of Matadors who have made their way to New Mexico Highlands, joining Andy Hermann from AWC's sophomore class.
"There's going to be a couple players over there I know that I've been playing with not just in college, but before," Molina said. "That was my idea, to go somewhere where I knew people that could help me get oriented with all the stuff I'd need to know."
Molina's versatility helped Arizona Western's defense as he often started games at third base but moved to the mound as a relief pitcher in the late innings. He posted a 2.12 ERA in his 17 appearances, and his 37 hits were fourth best for the Matadors.
"I think their coaches look at the strength of our league and our results with the wood bats," he said. "They know as we go over there we'll have success with the aluminum bats."
Arkansas State, a member of the Sun Belt Conference, won 20 games this past season. New Mexico Highlands reached the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference's tournament championship game in May, losing 14-5 to the University of Nebraska-Kearney.