Mesa Westwood's Daniel Zapata has been an integral part of the Warriors baseball program for four years. The senior right-hander, who also plays in the infield and outfield, would love to close his prep career with a 5A Division I postseason appearance, something that's eluded Westwood in each of his four seasons.
Zapata, who has pitched since joining the program in 2005 as a freshman at Powell Junior High, has compiled a 15-14 career record with a 2.88 earned-run average over that span. He's been the team's top pitcher the last two seasons and played shortstop and center field this year.
"In his four years here he's played every position but catcher," Westwood coach Brian Stephenson said. "He may be the smartest player I've ever coached. If you ask him to play somewhere he just grabs his glove and goes."
Westwood must win its final two games of the season today (vs. Mesa) and Wednesday (at Phoenix Pinnacle) to have a shot at reaching the state tournament. Zapata is headed to Scottsdale Community College this fall, where Stephenson believes he'll get a shot at playing center field, his best position, and pitching. Zapata leads area pitchers this season with 90 strikeouts in 56 innings.
Matt Anderson came into this year's baseball season as the unquestioned ace on the mound for Scottsdale Saguaro. He gave up hitting in the offseason to focus solely on becoming a better pitcher, and the numbers don't disappoint.
Even after a bad outing against Cave Creek Cactus Shadows on Thursday, Anderson is 10-1 with a 1.00 ERA. Despite his pitching prowess, the Sabercats struggled early, so Anderson asked to be re-inserted into the lineup, where he hit around .300 as a regular last year.
In 10 region games Anderson is hitting .500, with 20 RBIs. The Sabercats are 8-2 in 4A-I Desert Sky Region play with two games remaining.
"It's really been the spark for us," Saguaro coach Ryan Dyer said of Anderson's hitting.
The Division II and Division I boys lacrosse championships will be played on Saturday at Scottsdale Chaparral at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.
The Division I final is between Chaparral and Phoenix Brophy. Division II has Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep facing off against Tucson Tanque Verde. The Saints went 1-11 last year but are 12-0 this season.