Lions land Houston pitcher
Sal Rico, Jr. signs with SAGU
Coach Shockley inks another hurler
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The progression of the baseball team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University took another step towards contention when Salvador Rico, Jr. indicated he is enrolling this fall as a student-athlete.
After signing a binding national of intent last week, the 5-foot-9 right-handed pitcher from Houston has committed to don the purple and gold for the Lions.
“He’s a hard worker, and has overcome a lot of doubt to get to this level,” said Sal Rico, Sr., his father and coach at Mount Carmel Academy. “He stuck with the game and proved his game with a resilient nature. He didn’t give up on his goal of pitching in college.”
His journey as a battler parallels his school’s perseverance. In 2008 Mt. Carmel H.S. closed its doors after 52 years. To serve the displaced students, Mt. Carmel Academy, a charter school, was created.
Rico, Jr. (REE-koh) fought to develop his baseball skills while trusting the Lord that his qualities would be recognized beyond prep school.
Enter new SAGU head coach Jonathan Shockley, who has a knack for honing the talents of young hurlers. Focusing his recruiting efforts on pitching, he has now signed a pair of mound-men (see list below), including Rico.
Interested in studying a myriad of majors, from business to theatre arts, “Lil Sal,” as he is known to family and friends, says he is coming to SAGU to “…have fun playing baseball while receiving my education.”
And it is no secret that most athletes have more fun when they are winning.
“I hope to be a leader and to help take SAGU up to the next level in the Red River Athletic Conference, the NAIA and to go to the NCCAA Tourney.”
For Coach Shockley, producing the Lions’ first-ever winning record is one of the initial objectives for the squad. “We have a young core of players returning,” he said. “Pitching and defense are always the building blocks and the strength of successful teams.”
The 2012 ballclub advanced in both of those areas, lowering their earned run average from 7.38 to 5.27 and reduced their errors from 121 to 98.
Plus, the infield racked up 22 twin-killings this year. They made only one double-play in 2011.
“We’ve made headway, but we have plenty of work to do,” Shockley admitted. “But I like the guys we have and I like our chances.”
Rico’s 2012 season saw him make eight appearances on the hill, earning a 3-1 record. His 3.31 ERA is the result of the tutelage of former major leaguer, David Clyde (Miracles Baseball in Houston). Rico's career 5.88 ERA reveals, spot-on, the improvement his game has enjoyed.
Controlling the tempo of the game by mixing speeds, hitting spots with a forkball, splitter, two-seamer and a cutter, he frustrates batters without having to overpower them.
When not dealing from 60-feet, 6-inches, Rico played at second base and the outfield.
At the plate he was a table setter, evidenced by his .569 on-base percentage. He also swiped 72 bases in as many attempts.
His career batting totes while playing for the Rebels saw him finish with a .444 batting average with 18 extra-base hits, three of them homers.
Individually, Rico was named All-State by the Texas Christian Athletic League from 2009-2012. Mt. Carmel finished as the state runner-up in T-CAL in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Rico has been heavily involved in his home church and enjoys numerous sports – earning all-state in cross country. Of his hobbies, drawing, writing music, poetry and short stories are his favorites.
Born to parents Sal and Elva, he has one sister, Samantha. Sal, Jr. lists his grandfather, Guadalupe Rico, as his motivation for playing baseball.
“He started back in the 1940’s, playing in an open field with large rocks for the bases,” he said. “They carved their own bats and used raggedy gloves. They had to avoid cactus when they were in the field. He has always been a big inspiration for me.”
He became acquainted with SAGU while on campus for the TCAL state basketball tournament, which is played annually in the Sheaffer Full Life Center. It led to him meeting Coach Shockley, who invited Sal to a Lions baseball game and to a tour of the grounds at Southwestern. A tryout followed.
About SAGU Baseball
The Lions are dual Division I members in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the National Christian College Athletic Association.
Regionally, SAGU competes in the 15-member RRAC, which has teams in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico.
SAGU will begin playing their home games next season on their new campus ballpark, which is still under construction this summer.
Following the Lions
New features for fans in 2013 will be LiveStats and a new interactive Twitter account.
LiveStats is a digital, play-by-play of the accounts and statistics of home games, while social media Tweets will provide news, announcements and scoring updates.
Current Baseball Recruiting Class
|Name||Pos||Ht||Hometown (Previous School)||Coach|
|Hayden Killebrew||RHP||6'0||Red Oak, TX (Red Oak HS)||Jay Johnson|
|Salvador Rico, Jr.||RHP||5'9||Houston, TX (Mt. Carmel Academy)||Sal Rico, Sr.|