The unwanted "All-American": Gilbert native's road to division three stardomPosted: Updated:
Austin Parent grew up in Gilbert, dreaming of playing big time baseball.
“Always wanted to keep playing, always watched the high school guys and wanted to be like them,” said the former Highland Hawks catcher.
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Parent experienced a solid dose of reality during his senior season in 2015.
“It was awful honestly,” said Parent. “We weren’t really good as a team so that kind of added to the frustration.”
The only place he could find to play was at a local junior college. He most likely would have been riding the bench. Parent reached out to Southwest Baseball Prospects. Former Cactus Coach Greg Virga helps place local baseball players at schools back east. Division three school Pittsburgh-Bradford was looking for a catcher and Parent jumped at the opportunity.
"I was like this is like out in the middle of literally, no where,” said Parent.
“I went out and visited and it's literally in the middle of nowhere. Little tiny town, older town. Chance to play so that's where I went."
Three years later, Parent is the school's first ever first team All-American. He lead the nation in hitting, with a .496 average.
“In high school I used to be a grip it and rip it, white knuckle guy,” said Parent, who hit two grand slams this season and three home runs in one game. “I just tried to stay calm and relaxed. I changed this one little thing in my swing and it helped a lot. I focus more on the mental side of the game.”
His historic season has earned Austin a look from the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s been invited to their pre-draft workout on May 28.
“Our coach, Zach Foster, was drafted by the Pirates,” said Parent, who’s been told to keep his phone close during the draft.
“I’m excited to go out there and prove to these guys. See if I can get my own shot.”
After his amazing journey. Parent has a message for local athletes don’t have a story book ending to their high school career.
“Looking back at it now, I’m actually fortunate. Knowing what it's like to go through a down year and knowing you can bounce back,” said Parent.
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