Athlete Spotlight: Gabe Armstrong’s efficiency earns him top spot in pitching rotation
by Jeremiah Girard
La Habra Journal
Heading into this season the Sonora starting rotation seemed to be set with senior Evan Sonny and junior JonPaul Sarro as both got experience last season for the Raiders and both appeared poised for another great season this year.
Then, along came a junior Gabe Armstrong, who has impressed since his first start against Fountain Valley in the team’s season opener.
“JP just did not appear to be where he needed to be after preseason play,” said Sonora head coach Pat Tellers. “And Gabe was ready to go, so he found himself in the rotation. It is not necessarily a permanent thing, but for now Sarro will see action out of the bullpen.”
Armstrong has been solid throughout including the preseason. On March 11, in a Loara Tournament game against Yorba Linda, Armstrong threw a no-hitter in a 4-0 Sonora win. In that game he struck out eight batters and only walked three.
“That was the first no-hitter I have ever thrown,” Armstrong said. “I have come close a few times but there was always the one hit late.”
Gabe’s stuff has been unhittable this year at the varsity level but heading into the season he was not expected to turn into the ace of the staff.
“He is a guy that shows up every day and gives 110 percent in practice,” Teller said. “He put in the work all offseason and he has been all season so far, and we are just seeing the results.”
The Sonora pitching rotation is the same rotation employed at first base. When Gabe is on the mound, Evan Sonny plays first base and vice versa.
“I worked on my swing a lot over the offseason,” Armstrong said. “I became pull heavy towards the end of last year and knew that I had to work on some things if I wanted to see playing time.”
Since Gabe is only a junior, he still has over a year to impress colleges and make a decision, but it is no secret that he plans to try to play at the next level and hopes to play even beyond that.
In school, Gabe considers himself to be a good student and says science is his favorite subject.
“I am having an awesome time in Physics this year,” Gabe said. “I am not too big on math though. Math is the one subject that seems to get boring.”
He has seen a lot of success on the mound this year, but baseball is not the only sport in which Armstrong has found enjoyment.
“I played basketball for a while too,” he said. “But, after my sophomore year I decided to quit and focus on baseball because I thought that it would be able to take me further.”
Gabe’s favorite baseball player is Evan Longoria and his inspiration in baseball is his father.
He has continued to pitch well since the no-hitter including an eight-inning performance against Kelso High of Washington in an Anaheim Lions Tournament game this past Saturday. In those eight innings, he only gave up two hits and struck out nine batters. At one point, he retired 18 straight batters.
He will look to continue his good play and try to lead the Raiders to another Freeway League championship.