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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Alfonso Rivas finds groove at UA

Arizona+outfielder+Alfonso+Rivas+III+swings+at+the+ball+during+Arizona%26%238217%3Bs+11-5+win+against+St.+Mary%26%238217%3Bs+on+March+6+at+Hi-Corbett+Field.
Jen Pimentel
Arizona outfielder Alfonso Rivas III swings at the ball during Arizona’s 11-5 win against St. Mary’s on March 6 at Hi-Corbett Field.

For freshman Alfonso Rivas III, success is not something that comes easily. Once a young kid that moved to San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico, not knowing any English, Rivas is now a staple in the Wildcats’ starting lineup as a freshman.

Rivas is currently hitting .296, has hit 5 doubles, one homerun, scored seven runs and has 12 RBI’s. It was not easy for Rivas early on though. He moved to San Diego as a young fourth grader.

“I wanted to go back just because I had no friends,” Rivas said. “I didn’t know the language, which was the worst part because I couldn’t communicate with anyone.”

Baseball has been apart of Rivas’ life since he was a young kid in Tijuana. He started playing the game when he was two years old. Rivas said he started playing because of his dad and grandpa, who are both big baseball fans. His grandpa played professionally in Mexico.

Rivas started to enjoy the game when he was around 10 years old. He said he realized how good he was and that he was better than most kids.

“When you do good, you feel good about yourself,” Rivas said. “It’s what led me to like the game.”

Rivas did not allow the culture change to stop him from being successful after moving to San Diego. He took summer school courses for seven years to learn English and eventually got into La Jolla Country Day School.

Rivas continued to work hard when coming to Arizona under head coach Jay Johnson and earned a spot in the starting lineup early in the season.

“I wasn’t expecting anything really,” Rivas said. “I just knew that a spot was not going to be handed to me, so I had to earn the job .. So I just got to work, tried to do everything right and I guess it’s been paying off.”

Rivas broke out in the second week of the season when he had the chance to return home to San Diego to play in the Tony Gwynn Classic. Rivas had the chance to play in front of his parents, grandparents and family from Mexico, old coaches and high school friends.

He did not disappoint his hometown fans, going 9-for-15 with seven RBIs, four runs scored, a homerun and a double. Rivas received Pac-12 Player of the Week honors for his performance.

“I was a little surprised on how well I did; I mean, it was only our second series of the season,” Rivas said. “I just felt really comfortable up there. I just felt like I belonged there. I knew I was good enough to play.”

When transitioning from high school to the UA, Rivas said the biggest challenge has been the schoolwork.

“I would say the biggest transition for me has been the school aspect, because I’ve never really been really good at school,” Rivas said. “So I have to focus a little more time into the school aspect of things.”

Outside of playing baseball and school, Rivas said he enjoys going to movies, going to the beach, spending time in the jacuzzi in the nice Tucson weather and relaxing and taking naps, as most college students tend to do.

Rivas said he enjoys playing under Johnson, who has known him since his days coaching at the University of San Diego.

“I’m really excited about a few [of] our freshman on both sides of the ball and Alfonso for sure,” Johnson said. “I knew he was going to be a real good player, having been in San Diego all those years. I was very familiar with him.”

Johnson said he started recruiting him at USD and at Nevada when he was the head coach there.

Rivas credited Johnson for continuing his development as a player. Johnson helped Rivas learn the mental side of the game, different hitting approaches and how to hit college pitching, especially harder fastballs.

“I just like the way we go about things,” Rivas said. “The way we work, the way practices are set up, the way individual work is available to you. I’m really pleased to be here with coach Johnson.”

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