Gabrial Lopez felt at home during his baseball recruiting trip to San Francisco State University this past month.
The Central Valley High School senior gave his verbal commitment to the Gators on Oct. 25.
“This is definitely a huge milestone I will always remember,” said Lopez, 16. “I’ve been playing baseball since I was four years old. To get to this point, there’s an overwhelming amount of joy.”
“I’ve always wanted to go to college in San Francisco,” he added. “It’s my favorite city. I instantly fell in love with everything about the school as soon as I stepped on campus. I met all the players. I felt like I belonged there. It’s an amazing environment.”
Prior to committing to San Francisco State, Lopez met with head coach Tony Schifano and pitching coach Jimmy Meuel. The Zoom meeting was held in the morning on Oct. 25.
“They checked all of my boxes,” Lopez said. “They had all the right answers. Their coaching staff is amazing. Their baseball IQ is through the roof. I couldn’t be more excited to work with them. Their baseball philosophies are really going to benefit me.”
Lopez took his official visit to San Francisco State on Oct. 23.
“There hasn’t been a college that I love more,” he said. “It has everything I want.”
Lopez totaled four strikeouts while pitching one inning during the Gators’ fall ball intrasquad scrimmage.
San Francisco State is in the process of making cuts for the upcoming season.
“It was definitely a cool experience,” he said. “I’ve never faced college hitters before. I talked with a lot of the pitchers in the bullpen before I pitched. They were very welcoming.”
Lopez attended the San Francisco State Prospect Camp on Aug. 22 at River Island Field in Lathrop.
“I pitched in front of him (Schifano) for the first time,” Lopez stated. “He said he liked what he saw and wanted to keep in touch with me. They’re going to put me on their weight training and nutritional program. I have so much more to develop and work on.”
San Francisco State compiled a 14-8 record during its COVID-shortened 2020 season.
The 2021 campaign was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I want to get on the mound as soon as possible. They made it clear to me that I’d have an opportunity to get some outs for them my freshman year.”Gabrial Lopez
“I want to get on the mound as soon as possible,” said Lopez, who will graduate from Central Valley in June. “They made it clear to me that I’d have an opportunity to get some outs for them my freshman year.”
Lopez will major in health sciences at San Francisco State.
“I want to go to medical school afterwards and pursue a career in either nursing or psychology,” he said.
A four-year member of Central Valley’s baseball program, Lopez will wrap up his pitching career with the Hawks this spring.
Lopez made history this past season by becoming just the second player from Central Valley to earn Most Valuable Player honors.
He was named Western Athletic Conference South Division MVP in a vote by the league’s head coaches.
Lopez followed in the footsteps of Ruben Casas, who won the WAC MVP award in 2013.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” Lopez said. “When I was in elementary school, I watched him (Casas) play. He set the expectation for how good a pitcher and overall baseball player should be at Central Valley.”
Lopez posted a perfect 7-0 record on the mound with a 0.60 earned-run average, one no-hitter, three shutouts, six complete games, 84 strikeouts and 18 walks as Central Valley amassed a 14-4 overall record and claimed its first-ever conference championship (8-1).
“Baseball treats you well when you put in the work,” Lopez said. “I find so much joy in the grind.”