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West senior sidelined for rivalry game, but ready for collegiate career

By BY CLAY WHITTINGTON - CWHITTINGTON@VICAD.COM
March 29, 2012 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated March 29, 2012 at 10:30 p.m.

Victoria West's Zach Valenzuela hits a pitch during the first inning against Floresville last year.

Zachery Valenzuela knew it was coming.

After being admitted into the local children's hospital Wednesday for treatment of a staph infection on his leg, the Victoria West shortstop fully expected his teammates would give him grief when they came to visit.

And they did.

"They were asking me if I wanted them to bring me a teddy bear," Valenzuela said while laughing.

Warriors coach Manuel Alvarado went one step further, offering to bring the senior some crayons and a coloring book.

"We have pretty good team chemistry, and we like to joke around," Valenzuela said. "But whenever the time comes, we know how to be serious."

Unfortunately for West's only four-year starter, he will be unable to compete against cross-town rival Victoria East on Friday due to the infection.

He still has a lot of baseball ahead of him, however.

Valenzuela recently decided to attend McLennan Community College, where he will play for the Highlanders and study computer technology.

"I was pretty excited," the senior said of receiving an offer from the Waco school. "I've always wanted to play junior college, and now I've finally got the opportunity.

"It's going to be tough (to sit out against East), I really want to play against them, but it is what it is. I have to sit out and take care of my health."

His skills will be missed, though.

"Words really can't describe what he brings to the table for us," Alvarado said. "He's a leader on and off the field.

"He's got baseball smarts. He's got a real good glove on the infield. He's got quick feet and quick hands, and he swings a big bat with good bat speed."

The University of Arkansas at Monticello also made an offer, but Valenzuela is convinced McLennan Community College is the place for him.

"I know they have some pretty good history in baseball, and I like their school as far as academics," Valenzuela said.

The Highlanders won the NJCAA National Championship in 1983 and have claimed 20 conference championships and 10 Region V championships, while producing 23 all-americans. A total of 48 players have gone on to play for MLB teams since 1971.

As a junior, Valenzuela posted 25 hits, including two home runs, with 23 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.

"He's not afraid to work, that's a good thing about him" Alvarado said. "He's not afraid to get in the weight room or stay after practice and get hitting in inside the cages."

Prior to being sidelined, Valenzuela went 3-5 offensively against Gregory-Portland on Tuesday, helping the Warriors improve to 2-0 in District 30-4A play.

Garrett Rother is expected to start in his place with the hopes of having Valenzuela back for Tuesday's contest at Beeville.

Despite receiving medication, which has been effective, to treat the large knot that developed in his leg, there is a possibilty the area will need to be lanced in order to eliminate the infection.

But Valenzuela is determined to return to the diamond in time to help West reach the playoffs and, hopefully, make a deep run.

"We haven't gone past the second round, so I'm really looking to go past the second round this year with this being my final year," Valenzuela said. "We've always tried to make a run during the past four years I've been here (at Memorial and West), so I think it would be nice."

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