There’s no better way to kick off a season than opening conference play with a win over your rival.
That’s exactly what the Palm Desert Aztecs did against the La Quinta Blackhawks taking them down 13-0.
Senior right hand pitcher and UCLA commit Jeremiah Estrada was on the mound for the Aztecs and struck out 10 facing the minimum amount of batters to take our My Thai Athlete of the Week.
"I had a lot of fun being out on that mound,” Estrada said, “I was there freshman year as a Blackhawk and it just brought back memories. Coach Salazar’s team, my new brothers, I will always remember (them) as my brothers for life. We battled it out and I love being on that field looking back with these (guys). I just wouldn’t want to be anywhere else."
But striking players out is not what the game is all about to Estrada
"It’s an accomplishment but one thing I like to do is let my team do the work,” Estrada explained, “Strikeouts, they’re fun to do, give the team a rest, but I like just letting the guys have fun. It’s all about having fun. It’s not about one person, it’s about the whole team."
Palm Desert High School baseball head coach and athletic director Darol Salazar has had many Aztecs come through the program and go on to the next level. But Estrada might go even farther.
"Jeremiah is a very talented player,” Coach Salazar said, “He’s got all the athletic ability and skill set to do it. I talked to one Major League Baseball scout and he said he has 3 major league pitches right now. He says his fastball, slider, and changeup are all right at major league level right now.
For now, Estrada is focused on the jersey he is wearing today.
"Right now, my biggest focus is to take each game with Coach Salazar’s team,” Estrada said. “Our biggest goal is to win a CIF ring and then after that it will be the decision to either go to UCLA or the draft. But we’ll see how it goes. My biggest focus right now is just this team, Palm Desert Baseball.”
But if Estrada could wear any jersey?
"I’m a Dodgers fan so I would love to play for the Dodgers." Estrada said excitingly.
Whether Estrada is picked in the draft, he has a lot going for him.
"It’s honestly a true honor and blessing. I’m thankful for the opportunity to earn a scholarship and be committed to UCLA. Just to have that mindset of you’re out there pitching for a great goal that I’ve accomplished in life. I mean I’m not there yet but soon I will be and it’s going to be very exciting. I just love it.”