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St. Francis’ Valenzuela commits to Fullerton

Sahid Valenzuela — a standout, junior middle infielder for St. Francis High’s baseball team — shined at Cal State Fullerton’s prospect camp Sunday. Shortly after it ended, he gave a verbal commitment to play for the four-time national champion Titans.

“They were my No. 1,” said Valenzuela, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound second baseman who moved to shortstop last season. “I’m really excited. … I wanted to be committed as a junior and it all fell into place. It’s a lot of weight off my chest. Now I can just go out an play.”

He also had an offer from University of Texas-Pan American, and had drawn interest from Long Beach State, Nebraska, Oregon State, Cal Poly-SLO, UC Irvine, San Jose State, Saint Mary’s, and University of Pacific.

Valenzuela gave his commitment to Titans assistant coaches Jason Dietrich and Chad Baum.

Valenzuela said he plans to major in criminal justice, but for now he’ll keep focusing on getting better on the diamond and his remaining two years of high school.

Even though he locked down plans to attend his dream college, he hopes to qualify for the prestigious Area Coda Games this summer. The event draws hundreds of college and professional scouts.

Valenzuela, a fleet-footed leadoff hitter blessed with range and a flashy glove, was named first-team all-Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League as both a freshman and sophomore. He was chosen to the Sentinel’s All-County team both seasons, too.

“You could tell he was special from his freshman day on,” said Sharks coach Ken Nakagawa.

Last season, Valenzuela batted .349 with 16 stolen bases and scored 23 runs, helping the Sharks (19-9) reach the Central Coast Section Division II title game, a 1-0 loss to Branham.

The Sharks also reached CCS in 2013, but made a first-round exit as the No. 3 seed. Valezuela batted .402 as a freshman with 14 stolen bases and 26 runs scored.

In the offseason, Valenzuela plays for the Watsonville Aggies and Seattle Mariners scout team.

Nakagawa said he was proud of Valenzuela.

“Extremely,” Nakagawa said. “He has worked his (butt) off.”

The Titans went 34-24 last season and finished fourth in the Big West Conference with a 14-10 mark. They qualified for the NCAA Regionals in Stillwater, Okla., and went 1-1.

Valenzuela said he’s hoping to play shortstop in college.

“But as long as I’m in the lineup, I don’t care where I’m playing,” he said.

Valenzuela is one of three local players committed to play at the NCAA Division I level. Watsonville senior pitcher Chris Rivera signed with Long Beach State last week and Soquel senior pitcher Troy Miller signed with Michigan.

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