ON SPORTS: Titans duo make baseball commitments
Video: Victoria East's Jonathan Ortega
Video: Victoria East's Ryan Williams
Titans to become Bobcats
Jonathan Williams, sr., pitcher
2013: 7-3, 1.26 ERA, 61 IP, 80 SO, 9 BB
Jonathan Ortega, jr., shortstop
2013: 116 AB, 48 H, 5 3B, 11 2B, 17 RBI, 33 R, 21 SB
Wes Kolle knew Jonathan Ortega and Ryan Williams were good baseball players before they stepped onto the Victoria East campus.
What has impressed Kolle during the time he has been their head coach is their work ethic.
"We're very blessed and fortunate right now," Kolle said. "We've got some guys who love playing baseball and have played together for a long time. They've got some talent and they're starting to see some dividends of the hard work."
The payoff for Williams and Ortega will come in the form of a Division I baseball scholarship. Ortega and Williams have committed to play at Texas State University.
Williams, a senior, plans to sign a letter-of-intent with the Bobcats in November. Ortega, a junior, will have to wait until next year to make his commitment official.
Williams, a left-handed pitcher, and Ortega, a shortstop, received offers after attending baseball camps on the San Marcos campus.
Ortega received an offer during the fall semester of his sophomore year when he was playing with a select team out of Houston.
"I always liked Texas State because it's close to home and has a good baseball program," Ortega said. "I sat on the offer for a while, but I continued to talk to them. They got back in touch with me during the summer. I went up there on an invite and committed then."
Williams received an offer after making an official visit to the campus last weekend.
"The coaches were awesome and the facilities were very nice," Williams said. "I just had a good feeling when I went there. They've turned things around baseball wise and they have a pretty solid class for 2014."
Kolle expects Williams to become an important member of the Texas State pitching staff.
"He's a lefty with good size," Kolle said of the 6-foot-3 Williams. "He can run it up there in the mid 80s. He's developed three pitches with his fastball, curveball and changeup to where he can throw any of them for strikes anywhere in the count."
Ortega plays shortstop for the Titans and will likely continue in a middle infield role when he gets to Texas State.
"A good baseball team has to be strong up the middle and the shortstop is one of your best athletes," Kolle said. "He wants the baseball hit to him all the time. He wants to make plays and that's what we need out of our shortstop."
Williams and Ortega are looking forward to being teammates on the college level, but feel like they have some unfinished business at East.
The Titans have never won an outright district title or advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs.
Williams moved into a starter's role last season and is determined to pitch even better this season.
"It gave me a bunch more experience," he said. "I figured out what to do and what not to do in certain situations. You just have to stay in shape and focus on every pitch so you make sure your breaking stuff is not flat and you have good life on your fastball."
Ortega is currently East's starting quarterback and thought football was his sport until he started playing fall baseball while he was in middle school.
He intends to play football next season, but has high goals for the baseball season.
"I'm going to try and go out and get all-state at shortstop and hopefully help take the team to a state championship," Ortega said. "We're looking forward to coming out and winning district and we're confident that we can do it."
Kolle knows Ortega will be back at shortstop, but he's still trying to decide where he will hit in the lineup.
"I don't know if he's a leadoff hitter," Kolle said. "That's where he hit for us last year. He may slide down a little bit and bat third or fourth so he can drive in more runs. We want him at the top of our lineup to get as many at-bats as possible. He always finds a way to get on base. Once he's on base with his speed, he can turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at advosports.com