Leo Soto hopes he can help San Diego Christian University take the next step the same way he did for Sierra High’s baseball program.
On Wednesday, the 5-foot-7, 145-pound senior signed his national letter of intent to pitch for SDSU, which recently completed an 11-41 campaign after two winning seasons at the NAIA level.
“Last year they didn’t do too well, so I’m just looking to make an impact,” Soto said.
The soft-spoken lefty did just that for the Timberwolves the past two seasons. Last year he was the ace for a 22-6 Sierra squad that finished second in the Valley Oak League and reached the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinals, compiling a 9-0 record with a 1.29 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 65 innings. This season he went 7-4 with a 2.50 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings, as the Timberwolves earned their first VOL title since 2001. Soto was named to the All-VOL first team both years.
“We’re proud of Leo and real happy for him,” Sierra coach Jack Thomson said. “The school is a good match. It’s good that he’s given the opportunity to play at the next level. He doesn’t have the Division I body type but he was a very good high school pitcher.
“He did a great job for us. We wouldn’t have done what we did the last two years without him.”
San Diego Christian University competes in the Golden State Athletic Conference. The Hawks won the conference championship in 2014. Soto said SDCU coaches first came in contact with him after stumbling across one of his skills videos on YouTube.
Getting to play collegiately is a nice bonus for Soto, who plans on pursuing a career in criminal justice. The school offers a bachelor’s in Leadership & Justice.
“What drew me to them is that academically they have what I want to study,” Soto said. “I’m excited. Hard work paid off and now I get to move onto the next chapter of following my dream.”