Kevin Abel, the Oregon State University freshman whose outstanding pitching helped his team win the 2018 College World Series, thrilled players from his former youth baseball league when he came to their practice on July 5. Abel spoke to and signed autographs for players on North City Youth Baseball’s 11U All-Star team at Mt. Etna Park in Clairemont.
Abel, who was awarded a spot on the 2018 Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American team and named Freshman of the Year by D1 Baseball.com, played for North City as a 12-year-old. He spoke to the team of sixth and seventh graders about the importance of working hard at both baseball and school, being grateful to their parents, and never giving up. He credited these qualities with helping him become the first pitcher in NCAA history to win four games in the College World Series.
In a particularly meaningful point in his talk, Abel mentioned how he had been cut from his travel baseball team when he was in seventh grade. He advised the players to not get discouraged when setbacks occur, to always keep working hard and trying to get better.
“Be the guy that hustles on and off the field all the time, that’s sprinting to their positions,” he said. “Be the guy in the dugout that picks up your teammate when they make the last out. Grab their glove for them and hand it to them so they don’t have to come all the way back. It’s all about being a team. Trust me, there are guys who will probably never see the field, but they are the greatest teammates ever. They’re always willing to help out. And when they do get their opportunities, we cheer louder for them than we do for our starters, because we want to see them succeed.”
All the players were excited to meet an alumnus of their league who has found success on such a prominent stage. They asked him questions about the pressures of pitching in front of so many people, what kind of baseball player he was at their age, how to throw his best pitches, his warm-up routine, and much more.
“It’s cool to see someone I’ve known my whole life [do so well],” said North City 11U All-Star Noah Quinlin, whose older brother played with Abel on Madison High School’s baseball team. “To know that he came from the same league as we did, taking the same drills on the same field and hearing the same things that we hear from our coaches, shows us how possible it is for any of us to [succeed at that level].”
The parents in attendance were impressed with how encouraging, humble, and well-spoken Abel was. Rick Treviño, the team’s manager, noted how gratifying it is to see players like Abel give back to their community.
“I know this meant so much to our kids,” Treviño said. “We’re so thankful to Kevin for taking the time to come talk to them. It says a lot about his character, his family, and our community. He’s making San Diego proud. I’m sure meeting him will only inspire our players to work that much harder as we advance through the All-Star season.”
Abel reports back to Oregon State University as a sophomore on July 15.
North City Youth Baseball is a Pony Baseball league located in the Clairemont community of San Diego. North City’s 11U All-Star team recently won the championship for Pony Baseball’s North and South/East sections in the Southwest region and were runners-up in the regional championship game. They advance to the Super Regions tournament, which begins July 12 in Whittier, CA.