Flanked by his family at the Manteca High gym Monday, Rex Watson signed his letter of intent to continue his baseball career with University of San Diego.
Immediately after putting down the pen, he flashed a glance at his mother and grinned — a sweet moment between NCAA Division I athletes.
Brenda Scholl earned a scholarship with the Utah State gymnastics team and was part of the only squad in program history to qualify for the NCAA Championships in 1991, placing 12th.
“She really set the bar high,” Watson said. “That kind of led to the expectation to go D-I, in my mind — she obviously didn’t push it on me like that. It was definitely a good thing for me, because it really pushed for me to strive to be a D-I athlete.”
USD has been competitive in the West Coast Conference under Brock Ungricht, who is entering his third year as head coach. The Toreros finished as runners-up in his first two years and qualified for the NCAA Regionals in 2022.
Watson got their attention at a tournament in San Diego where he roped 20 base hits. He committed in September 2022.
“It just felt right,” Watson said of the early commitment. “I really went with my gut feeling. … After touring the school and talking with some of the guys, it really was a sealed deal.”
The left-handed center fielder is going into his fourth varsity season. Watson was named Offensive Player of the Year as a junior in the competitive Valley Oak League and is a two-time All-VOL first-team selection. He batted .494 overall last season with 38 hits (13 doubles, three triples, two homers), 37 runs, 16 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.