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Ty Villareal brings intensity to the game

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File Photo NMMI freshman Ty Villareal throws a pitch earlier this season.

Ty Villareal doesn’t do things halfway in life. Anything he does is going to be 100 mph. Whether it’s playing basketball or football, there’s an intensity about him. That’s the approach he takes playing baseball and pitching. He grew up around the game with his dad, Henry Villareal, a Hall of Fame baseball coach. His brother, Cal, is starting in the outfield for New Mexico State University.

“Cal has always been someone to look up to,” Ty said. “He has always shown me what I should do.”

Ty felt like his last competitive baseball game would be in high school. Goddard lost a heartbreaker to Los Lunas, 6-5. After the tough loss, he felt like he had given the game everything he had and didn’t have anything left to give.

“Ty is a great baseball player,” Goddard baseball coach Gilbert Alvarado said. “He can catch, pitch, play the infield and outfield. He can do it all and plays the game with a tremendous sense of determination and competitiveness along with an excellent understanding of situations.”

Last summer, Chris Cook, New Mexico Military Institute baseball coach, offered him a scholarship as a pitcher. With some rest and some time off, Ty decided he loved the game too much to let it end after high school. The transition to college baseball was made easier because he had a former Goddard teammate to help him adjust to college baseball in Tyler Hardwick.

“I thought I was going to miss baseball too much,” Ty said. “I just didn’t want to let the game go.”

As a freshman, Ty fit right in, he picked up his first collegiate win in a 10-4 victory over Western Nebraska Community College. In that game, he struck out six batters, allowed just three hits and held the Cougar offense to a .167 batting average in five innings of work.

For his efforts in that game, Ty earned Player of the Week honors in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference. His performance on the mound in Albuquerque helped the Broncos go 4-0 against a trio of teams in the Albuquerque Baseball Academy’s JUCO Weekend.

At NMMI, Ty is a starting pitcher and is throwing in the high 80s, but the thing that has helped him is he has learned to pitch. His out pitch is his curveball. He throws a fastball, curveball and changeup and tries to work in and out and hit the corners with his curveball.

For Ty, the game is more mental now in college than when he was in high school. Now he tries to set hitters up. In high school, he used to rear back and throw his fastball by hitters. In college the competition is better, teams are deeper in their batting order one through nine. One of the toughest things for him as a pitcher is seeing a guy for the third time in a game.

“In high school, I could beat guys with my fastball,” Ty said. “In college, I learned how to pitch. The lineups are deeper one through nine. I’m learning to locate my pitches, when to throw them, and where to throw them.”

The thing he learned now and wished he had known in high school was how to pitch. Ty loves going to NMMI and having his family being able to see him play. One of Ty’s favorite memories is spending time with his teammates and traveling with them.

The win that sticks out in his mind is the 11-7 win against Ranger College.

“It helps to have my dad here,” Ty said. “He’ll say, ‘Don’t spill your water’ and I know what he means. Things like that help me.”

Ty’s absolute favorite memory of his baseball life is the 2017 season. He was a sophomore and it was the fourth time the Rockets team had been to the state championship game. Cal was a senior pitcher, Ty was a sophomore player who played outfield and pitched, as well. Their dad, Henry, was the pitching coach. Goddard would go on to defeat Albuquerque Academy, 10-3, as mom, Sandy, watched from the stands.

“Cal and Ty are both great kids,” former Goddard coach Alan Edmonson said. “I love them both. Both boys are incredible competitors and hard-nosed, they always play hard nose and fast. Winning the state title was awesome.

“I will always remember, Ty made an amazing catch running back to the wall. One of my best memories was seeing Cal with a huge smile on his face, knowing his brother made a heck of a catch and seeing their dad, Henry wave his cap to Ty. It was a special moment.”

Ty cherishes the friends and memories he made playing at Goddard and is making at NMMI.

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.