Good Sports: Luis Ortiz

FRESNO, Calif.

"I'm very excited to be a Bulldog," said Ortiz. "There's so much talent here in the Valley and it gives us also an opportunity to share our talent because Fresno's not very known for sports or other things."

With his mother, Maria, by his side and a small army of extended family looking on, California's top-rated right handed pitcher signed a national letter of intent to become a Diamond Dog earlier this week.

"My family, they took the biggest role," said Ortiz. "They supported me all the way. My family is always going to be there for me. Always."

And while family support is a major reason Ortiz decided to stay in the Central Valley, he learned this past summer that he could also thrive without them. Ortiz toured the world and won a world championship with the USA Under-18 national team.

"There's growing up to do," admitted Ortiz. "You're going to travel but you can't be homesick. You play and focus on that but this whole summer matured me a lot because I traveled everywhere and my mom wasn't there."

"Family is very important to him," said Ortiz's uncle, Jose Esquivel. "Our family morals, he just wants to be around the family we're supporting him 100 percent and we're trying to help him out in every way we can. Just trying to be motivated and keep him going in the right direction."

It's not just Ortiz's 95 MPH fastball that has those close to him predicting future success. His high school coach at Sanger says Ortiz is as good a teammate, as he is a pitcher.

"People know that he got here on his talent but at the same time he's worked really hard to get where he is," said Sanger Head Coach David Cuellar. "Guys see that and they know that if I want to get to that point, I gotta work hard just the way Luis does."

Armed with Ortiz pitching every other game, the Apaches will look to their home grown hero to lead them to CIF glory in the spring.

"Every kid's high school dream is to win Valley, get that ring on your finger," said Ortiz with a smile. "And this year is it because our team we have kids that have talent and come together as a team and we're gonna come home with that Valley ring."

Valley pride on display for what Diamond Dog fans hope will be years to come.

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