Husky first baseman follows, leads by example

By Carlos Alvarez

Estevez improved on his second season as the starting first baseman in all offensive categories.  “From his first season to this one, he has improved in every aspect of his game,” Head Coach James Hines said.

“I have hit more home runs this year, but I have also been a consistent hitter this season,” Estevez said.  Estevez has a .321 batting average with four home runs, 10 doubles, 34 runs batted in and 18 stolen bases this season.  “Going into the season as a team, we’re expecting to make the playoffs.  I wanted to play a big role on making the playoffs,” Estevez said.

He is a  former baseball standout at Cathedral High School and has been praised for his hard work and dedication.  “He is a guy I want on my team; great character,” Assistant Coach at Cathedral Cesar Martinez said.

Upon graduating high school Martinez’s first choice was not East Los Angeles College.  “I went to Mt. SAC because of the fireman program, but the commuting was horrible, so ELAC became an option,” Estevez said.  During a summer league game, where he plays for the East Los Angeles Dodgers, Martinez was told by several of his coaches and teammates to join the Husky family.

After starting at first base as a freshman in his first season, Martinez was named captain of the team for his sophomore season by Hines.  “He is a quiet leader, someone who leads by example and who really cares about the team and program,” Hines said.

Through all his difficulties this season, Estevez has maintained his composure leading his team.  “It was a chance for me to lead and just be there for my teammates. It was a great honor,” Estevez said.  As the season comes to an end, Estevez is playing his best as the playoffs approach.

“He has grown and matured throughout the season,” Hines said.

“This season has been really good. Hines brings out the best in you. He keeps your focus on the now,” Estevez said, on Hines’s influence on him.

The Huskies (21-15 overall, 15-6 in the South Coast Conference) finished the season in second place with an automatic playoff berth.

“The playoffs are here and we’ll take it one game at a time,” Estevez said.  He said that although he feels good about the season, he wishes they had a home field at ELAC.  He said players feel a loss of pride when they don’t have a home field because the fans have to travel to Cal State Los Angeles.

When it comes to his studies, Estevez is trying to follow his mom’s footsteps.  His mother, Alma Pantoja, graduated from ELAC in 2003 and received her bachelor degree in business from the University of Southern California in 2006.  “My mom has always been my motivation. I wish to follow in her footsteps. She keeps me focused,” Estevez said.

Estevez hopes to continue to play at a four-year university, but is really focused on receiving his degree in business.

When he is not on the field playing baseball, sophomore standout Manny Estevez is learning the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.   “Baseball and Jiu-Jitsu are similar because they both require you to stay in control mentally. It’s my other passion,” Estevez said.

Estevez takes his usual pre-game routine on this playoff run hearing reggae music; with Bob Marley being his favorite.  “I hear some Marley and just before we get to the field, I read a little,” Estevez said of his routine.  “‘Pursuit of Excellence’ is what I read. It helps me focus and it relaxes me,” Estevez said when asked what book he read.

Estevez hopes to carry this team far in the playoffs.

“I love my experience with this team.  We are young, but we are a great team.  We will see how far we go,” Estevez said.

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