Yuma, Arizona – May 13, 2013 – Arizona Western College is proud to announce that Yuma-area baseball player Irving Lopez has signed an official letter of intent to attend AWC for the 2013-14 school year and play baseball for the Matadors next spring. The announcement comes less than two weeks before Lopez is scheduled to participate in graduation ceremonies at Gila Ridge High School.
While there have been numerous Yuma-area baseball stars that were on the Matador Baseball roster in 2011 & 2012, the signing of Lopez signals the first time during Drew Keehn’s two years at the helm of the AWC Baseball program that a Gila Ridge Hawk has made his way down 24th Street to don a Matador Baseball uniform. Having to jump right in and try to grab a starting job immediately isn’t a foreign idea to Lopez, especially since he’s been a member of the Hawks’ varsity baseball team all four years of his high school career. Lopez was strictly a middle infielder as a freshman, starting at shortstop, then Hawks’ Head Baseball Coach Greg Osowski began using Lopez both in the middle infield (he shifted to second base) and on the mound starting with his sophomore campaign. By Lopez’s junior year, he was a bonafide star in the infield, and one of the team’s stalwart hurlers on the hill in helping lead the Hawks to the second round of the Arizona State 5A-II State Playoffs. As a junior, Lopez was the Hawks’ best hitter with a blistering .431 batting average with 12 runs batted in. He also led the team with 5 doubles and 20 runs scored, and also contributed a pair of triples and two stolen bases. On the mound, he only made three appearances, but made the most of them, picking up wins against Lake Havasu and Mohave in mid-March, going no less than 5 innings in each start. For the season, Lopez was 2-0 with a 2.69 earned run average, striking out 11 batters in his 13 innings of work.
As a senior, Lopez was asked to top those numbers while becoming the team leader, and Lopez accomplished both of those goals very well. Once again, he was one of only two Hawks with batting averages over .400 (Lopez batted .436), led the team in stolen bases (6) and home runs (hit the only Hawks’ round-tripper in 2013), and he was again among the team leaders in runs scored (20, T-1st), hits (34), RBI (18), and doubles (5). On the hill, he was also one of their top hurlers with a 5-2 record and a stellar 1.79 ERA. He had a pair of complete games in his seven starts, and fanned 36 hitters in his 47 innings of work in leading the Hawks to their first 20-win season in school history and another state tournament appearance.
With Matador sophomore middle infielders Casey Scott and Hector Valenzuela graduating later this week, Lopez will have an opportunity to compete for a starting infield job next season. The Matadors just completed their second straight 30-win season, posting a 31-24 overall record this past season.