By Liliana Marquez
Every time starting pitcher of East Los Angeles College Roman Davalos throws the ball to home plate, his wrist shows off a tattoo with the letters RDD, next to a tattoo of a Dallas Cowboys star.
Those letters are the initials of his late grandfather, Roman D. Davalos, who passed away almost four years ago. The star represents Roman Davalos and his grandfather’s favorite football team.
“Every time I get a hat or a glove, I put his initials on it. He went to almost all my high school games. When I pitch, I think of him, and I know he is at the game watching me,” Davalos said.
Davalos, starting pitcher of the East Los Angeles College baseball team, was named the 2014 South Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year.
He was automatically named to the All-SCC First Team.
Davalos received this big news on April 29, before the play-in game against College of the Canyons which the Huskies won 6-5 to move on to the first round of the Southern Regional Playoffs.
Davalos said that he dedicated this honor to his grandfather Roman.
The news didn’t completely shock Davalos because he knew he had a possible chance at being named All-SCC first or second teams because of the season he had.
Cerritos College Head Coach and SCC Coach of the Year, Ken Gaylord, said that Davalos was one of the best pitchers his team faced this year.
Davalos, who has played baseball for almost 17 years, said that after a successful season with the Huskies, winning pitcher of the year has been his biggest accomplishment as an athlete.
ELAC baseball Head Coach James Hines said that Davalos had a great season.
“He was very outstanding. He did a great job for us. There are not a lot of guys that roll through here and do that kind of job. He always maintained his composure when he was out on the mound,” Hines said.
Teammate Daniel Moriel agreed with Hines on the importance that Davalos’ performance had on the Huskies winning the SCC title, shared with Cerritos and Long Beach City colleges.
“His performance was huge this year. Without him, our pitching staff drops,” Moriel said.
Davalos, 20, finished his first season with the Huskies (second season playing college level).
Born in Bellflower and raised in El Monte, Davalos played baseball at Arroyo High School in El Monte for four years.
He also played football during his freshman and sophomore years, but after finishing his second year, he realized that if he wanted to be successful in baseball, he would need to focus on it year-round.
During his high school baseball career, Davalos earned numerous awards.
He was named Pitcher of the Year for the Arroyo Knights baseball team during his freshman year.
As a high school junior, Davalos made it to the All-Mission Valley League Second Team and was also named Pitcher of the Year for that team.
The highlight of his high school career came during senior year when he received three honors.
He was named to the All-Mission Valley League First Team, the Knights’ Most Valuable Player and Pitcher of the Year.
Davalos planned to attend ELAC right after high school, but decided to go to Barstow Community College where he played his first year of college ball.
“I called coach Hines, who also graduated from Arroyo. One night I had a game at Mt. SAC with my travel ball team,” Davalos said.
“He showed up and asked me if I wanted to play for ELAC. I said yes because I like the way he coaches, and I know he can move you on.”
For Davalos, adjusting to the new team wasn’t difficult because he already knew five teammates.
“We grew up together. We’ve been playing baseball since we were around 12, so that helped me adapt,” Davalos said.
Two of those teammates are Shawn Kennedy, named to the All-SCC First Team and Daniel Moriel named to the All-SCC Second Team.
“He (Davalos) did great this year. We both were first and second pitchers. Him pounding the zone allowed him to get pitcher of the year,” Kennedy said.
Moriel said that Davalos’ strength is his desire for the game because he lives to compete. Moriel described Davalos’ style of play as quiet, but fierce.
“He isn’t really vocal when he’s pitching, but you know when he is about to cut the other team up,” Moriel said.
Kennedy said that Davalos is a great pitcher who throws strikes and gets people to ground out, which limits the runs given up to keep the team in the game.
For Davalos, playing baseball is something that comes natural to him. What he loves the most about baseball is being in control.
“As a pitcher, I love having the feeling that on the mound I control the game, and that I can be the outcome of it,” Davalos said.
He started playing baseball when he was about three years old. He played in Little League and also played travel ball.
Davalos was 16-years-old when he participated in the Wood Bat Tournament in San Gabriel Valley with the Montebello Brewers.
They made it to the championship game and that is something he will always remember.
“One of our guys came up to bat and hit a grand slam to put us up by one,” Davalos said.
“I wasn’t pitching at the time, so I went up to the coach and asked him to put me in. I went in and struck out all three guys.”
The Brewers won the tournament and Davalos received an unexpected gift from his coach.
“At the end of the tournament they (the coaches) got a trophy. The coach actually gave it to me and said, ‘You pitched most of this tournament, so you deserve this,” I was shocked, but happy,” Davalos said.
It was also during that week that Davalos’ grandfather passed away.
“He actually passed away on my birthday. That tournament I played was during the last week that he was with us and I actually gave him that trophy,” Davalos said.
Last summer, Davalos also had the chance to play with the LA Easton Elite Dodgers, a 19-and-over summer collegiate scout team, and said it was a great experience.
“I actually went to the world series in New York City. We got to stay there for over two weeks and played against (teams from) Texas, Wyoming and Puerto Rico. It was great to see all the talent from all over the U.S.,” Davalos said.
Now that the season is over for the Huskies, Davalos said that he had a good experience despite some problems faced during the season.
“We didn’t have a bad start, but we had a bump in the road during the middle of the season,” Davalos said.
He also said that for them to come together and pull off a victory to get into the playoffs was something good, and that it showed the kind of team they had.
But he still has a lot to work on to improve his game.
“Roman’s biggest strength is that he keeps his walks down, which limits the runs,” Kennedy said.
“His weakness is that he leaves the ball up on some pitches which makes it easier to hit.”
Davalos will attend a summer camp at the Reggie Smith Baseball Academy where he hopes to catch the attention of colleges and professional teams.