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Cota has break-out year at SDSU

May 28, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

SAN DIEGO — Much has been said about the San Diego State University baseball team overcoming adversity and numerous key injuries to make a run at a conference championship this year.

One of the players who epitomized SDSU's never-give-in attitude was Calexico native and Aztecs' starting second baseman Carlo Cota.

Sure, many would like to think the 20-year-old Cota stepped up in the face of adversity to help carry the Aztecs to a 34-26 overall record and 19-11 mark in the Mountain West Conference, where they finished second to Brigham Young University.

But in reality the 1998 Calexico High graduate thinks no matter the situation presented, even with months of work during the off-season, he was going to break out no matter what this year.

"I put in a lot of work during the off-season, playing in a wood bat league up in Washington," said the 5-foot-10 Cota, who just completed his junior year at SDSU. "Yeah, playing up there really helped a lot, but I'd like to say that the success I had this year would've happened anyway."


Seeing the upward trend in his statistics through the first two years, it did seem inevitable that with more playing time, Cota would be set for a huge junior year.

Whether it was his off-season work or that he started a team-high 59 of 60 games, Cota proved to be one of SDSU's most valuable players.

He led the Aztecs in six offensive categories, including hits with 82, doubles with 13, total bases with 102 and plate appearances at 273.

He finished in the top five on the team in batting average at .346, runs (37), RBIs (46), sacrifice bunts (4) and stolen bases with four.

Coming off a 2000 campaign where he was in and out of the lineup, Cota entered this year with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

"After my first two years where I wasn't starting on a regular basis, I felt like I had something to prove," said Cota. "It wasn't just proving myself this year. I felt that same way when I first got here.

"When I was in high school I was like one of the best on my team. But then when I got here my freshman year, everyone was the best player on their teams, too. So in that sense it kind of humbled me," said Cota. "But it's also a motivation and you get some excitement in you and all that makes you want to work that much harder. And you know that you can't slack off because there's always going to be a guy behind you who's just as good."

After gaining valuable experience playing for the Bellingham Bells in Bellingham, Wash., last summer, Cota will again play summer ball in hopes of bettering his all-around play. This summer Cota will play in a wooden bat league in Lake Havasu for the Havasu Heat.

As was the case last year, the level of competition he'll face during the summer isn't what Cota thinks will make him better, rather just seeing and playing alongside different athletes will improve his game.

It'll be another nine months before Cota's senior season playing for the Aztecs rolls around, but he is already preparing for his final year.

"Next year I'm expecting great results, not just from me, but from the whole team. My sophomore year we won a conference championship and I'm thirsty for another one. I want another ring," said Cota. "Then after next year I want to play pro ball. That's always been my dream. And I'm not going to give up until I realize that dream."

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