HARLINGEN — John Ortega was part of a big day for Harlingen High athletics, signing to play baseball next fall at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.
Ortega is a three-sport athlete who lettered in golf and basketball and was a four year letterman for the Cardinals’ baseball team.
“I have been looking forward to this day for a very long time,” Ortega said. “I’m excited to continue my career and my academics. It is a big opportunity for myself and my family. They will get to watch me play, and I will be able to play at the next level and not everyone gets an opportunity to do that.”
Ortega reached the playoffs during his final two years as a Cardinals player and played a large role on the Cardinals’ pitching staff, helping Big Red to a playoff berth and a bi-district title in 2019.
As he was a standout basketball player, Ortega wavered in deciding the sport he would pursue in college. It wasn’t until his sophomore year that he decided baseball would be his first sport.
“Since I was small, people would always ask me what sport I liked more,” Ortega said. “It was always a tough choice for me, but I decided that baseball was the best choice for me and gave me an opportunity to play at the college level.”
Said Harlingen High coach Armando Rangel, “He was our ace pitcher this year. Last year as a junior he played many positions, and this year he was our ace and when we threw him we had a chance to win. And when you have a kid that can do that you cherish those things, and that is one thing we are going to miss with him. He was a great leader for the younger kids on the team.”
Ortega will reunite with former Harlingen High baseball coach Bryan Aughney, who coached the Cardinals for five seasons.
“I’m excited, Coach Aughney is going to challenge me just like he did when I was a freshman,” Ortega said. “I’m looking forward to being on the team next year. I was playing in tournaments and showcases, and I had a few schools contact me from out of the state. Not only was I excited to join Coach Aughney, but I also know the San Antonio area well.”