Coming off winning a state championship in football this last year, Jake Matthews, a senior baseball player on the Ironwood Ridge High School team is determined to add another state championship to the list.
“I just want to lead and help the team as much as I can so we can win state,” said Matthews. “I got a taste of it with football and I want the same for baseball.”
Like most athletes, Matthews started playing baseball at age five and played year-around on club teams and Little League Baseball. As he got older, it was not uncommon to see him hitting with his brother and dad on the weekends in efforts to improve his game. His brother, Clay Matthews, currently plays on the Pima Community College baseball team.
“My dad is the one who got me into playing baseball but I never felt like he pressured me to play,” said Matthews. “I loved playing and it’s what I wanted to do.”
His love and passion for baseball paid off as he played short stop on varsity his freshmen year of high school and continued to hold that position throughout the next three years. Taking up the head coaching position Matthews’ sophomore year, Dennis Toia, has watched him grow into a leader by his example and athletic abilities.
“He is hardworking and has a very strong work ethic that the other players look up to,” said Toia. “There are five tools for a baseball player: foot speed, power, average, fielding, and throwing; Jake has all of those. He also has leadership which he’s brought with him from this last season in football where he led his team to win state.”
Matthews’ solid performance in football is also very evident in his baseball. Standing at 6 feet 3 inches with a strong, sturdy build, Matthews has the size and quickness to be a talented athlete. He is quick on his feet with a .955 fielding percentage. His current batting average is .575 and his on base percentage is .625.
“The sky’s the limit for him,” said Toia. “Division I level coaches have been coming left and right to look at him.”
With college baseball scholarships already offered from the University of Arizona, University of Washington, Arkansas State University and more, Matthews has more than a couple options to choose from. So how will Matthews decide?
“I’m going to go with my gut feeling as to what is best,” said Matthews. “I’ll look at the big picture and see what I like and where I’ll fit best.”
Matthew is looking forward to playing college baseball and pursuing a degree in the medical field.