Cal High’s Jordan Zuniga keeps sharp during stoppage of play
WHITTIER – It’s smack dab in the middle of the high school baseball season and Cal High senior first baseman Jordan Zuniga finds himself hitting a ball into a net.
All because of the current situation the world finds itself in, even down to the high school level, athletes of all sports are virtually in a world of their own.
Zuniga, a four-year varsity starter for the Condors, finds himself trying the best he can to keep his skills sharp, hoping for an end to the pandemic.
Ah, but it’s so much more than just the possible end of a baseball season for the senior.
“I was looking forward to my senior year and it was all taken away,” said Zuniga, who is 6-2, 190 lbs. and is hoping to play in college next season. “I couldn’t believe we couldn’t come to school and not even practice. I don’t remember the last time I stopped playing baseball.”
Zuniga, you see, has been playing the game since he was four years old.
In fact, in a bit of irony, the last organized game of baseball Zuniga saw was a little league game with his dad.
“When they (Cal Hi) got rained out in their last (league) game, we went out to Murphy Ranch to watch a game,” Dan Zuniga said. “It’s rough without seeing him play. We also looked forward to senior day (April 30) and I even arranged time off for it.”
Like a good portion of parents, he would leave work early to watch him play.
Something else that Jordan and every other senior might miss out on will be the prom, graduation and even a senior trip.
“I’m in a senior Business Academy and we were going to New York in April,” said the younger Zuniga, who is also a Yankees fan.
Along with teammates Bryce Bernal and Alex Reynozo, the class was also going to take in a Yankees game and a tour of the stadium.
Perhaps Jordan and numerous other athletes have a chance to get closer to their parents in this time of crisis.
“We just hit ground balls in the front yard and he even marked out the street 90 feet to represent the baselines and he runs sprints,” Dan Zuniga said. “We do what we have to do and get ready for the next level. I’m just supporting him and you can’t take a day off.”
Zuniga will be playing for coach Pat McGee at Pasadena City College next season.
One person helping Jordan get to the next level is second-year Condors coach Kyle Pine.
“This is an uncharted time for us that we really don’t know when we get back on thefield,” Pine said. “I just keep telling our guys to be ready and keep working. We’ve figured out some ways to communicate with them and the drills they can be working on to enhance their skills as a ball player.
“We’ve sent videos, links, texts and all that to show them things, some new and some old they can work on.”
Zuniga often runs around the block and the 90 feet to represent the base paths.
“Jordan is a four-year varsity guy and earned and solidified his spot in the middle of the order,” Pine added. “He’s our most experienced and since he’s had all these years on varsity, the pressure doesn’t get to him as you might see in a sophomore or junior.
“I know he’s at home swinging off a tee or working with his dad on ground balls or getting other work in. He comes from an all-around great family who supports him as an athlete.”
Pine became head coach last year on a senior-heavy team with excellent leadership that won the Del Rio League title.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to see that full potential, as we’ve been put on pause, so to speak,” Pine said. “It will be interesting to see what all happens with the NCAA and JuCo (junior college) ball, giving another year of eligibility to the spring athletes and how that affects recruiting. We are confident we will land Jordan at a quality baseball program after he graduates.”
Zuniga, who had plans to work out at Bernal’s (outfielder) house recently, is always trying to improve his hitting skills, along with teammate Eddie Perez (outfielder/pitcher).
Hopefully, Zuniga and the rest of his teammates and all of high school baseball can put the net away and actually face a live pitcher real soon.