By AMY ZAMBRANO
The Pima Community College baseball team was struggling 37 years ago.
The team was coming off of a 16-27 season where they went 8-18 in conference play.
The Aztecs had to do something to improve for the next season.
Rich Alday, then PCC baseball head coach, had faith in his team and still had hopes of leading his team to a championship.
During the off-season, Alday recruited some high school stars that would change the Aztecs’ luck on the diamond.
The recruits included Steve Netherton from Sahuaro High School, an all-city selection; Mike Porras, an all-city second team selection from Cholla High School; Doug Branch, an all-city honorable mention from Palo Verde High School; Richard Campbell from Globe High School, and Tony Lopez from Nogales High School.
With the new recruits and seven returning Aztecs, Alday liked Pima’s chances. Pima also moved out of the “extremely tough” Valley Division of the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference and in to the State Division.
In 1975, Alday’s strategy paid off, starting the season with two wins.
Alday said the pitching staff looked good and that they finally got it together by winning a double header 5-1 and 4-2 against Eastern Arizona College, to end an eight-game losing streak to Eastern.
“The team is actually hitting the ball now” Alday said.
Strong pitching performances came from Frank Castro and Alden Gates, who went to “battle” on the mound for the rest of the season.
By 1981, the Aztecs had made it to the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series and in 1985 they made the championship game.
Alday would leave Pima with a 496-220 record to coach at the University of New Mexico from 1990-2007.
In 2003 Alday became the winningest coach in UNM history where Alday won 512 games. In 1994, Alday was inducted into the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame and in 2010 PCC retired his number, 26.
Filed Under: Sports From the Archives
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