Every school year brings uncertainty for everyone whether it be the difficulty of classes, the ins and outs of high school love, or in head coach Dan Ramirez’s case, the type of talent that will step foot on St. Augustine’s baseball field this year.
Ramirez expected to have himself a competitive team full of ball players with different levels of experience, but what he didn’t expect was a 6-foot-1-inch freshman to lead the team in batting average, on base percentage, hits, runs batted in, fielding percentage, and on the pitching side … earned run average. To lead his team is one thing, but Owen Ernle’s batting average has landed him a spot in the top 15 freshman’s class in the state of Arizona with fellow teammate Joaquin Gracia not far behind with an outstanding .375 batting average.
So what makes Owen the ballplayer that he is at such an early stage in his high school career? Some of it can be accredited to his dedication to the game, some of it comes from his experience playing with Tucson’s Rebels and Baseball Next Level club team, most of it comes from his strong support system that is his parents “DJ and Tina Ernle” as Owen expressed, but to sum it up, Ramirez said it best, “it’s his character, he’s a good player but he’s an even better person.”
Ramirez was the inaugural head coach of the baseball team when St, Augustine Catholic High School first opened its doors in 2003. It has been a journey of some ups and many downs for the program as the team and Ramirez find themselves celebrating their 20th year anniversary. One thing that remains a constant within the program are the program’s morals and non-negotiables. Ramirez has always been there for his players since the beginning, pulling strings and working past the clock to find his players jerseys to wear, let alone a diamond to even play on. The official school logo came from the artistic minds of Ramirez and his daughter as they abbreviated the school’s name while replacing the “T” with the cross to pay homage to their religious beliefs.
The impact Ramirez has had on his team goes beyond the materialistic side of baseball, rather the qualities he instills on the team not only make them better players, but better people. It starts with sportsmanship.
“We super emphasize sportsmanship maybe more than other schools might,” Ramirez says. “The language, the attitude, a lot of our program is based on respect for umpires, for the game, and everyone involved within the game.”
Owen Ernle has been a big key piece for the Wolves this year as Ramirez describes him as “an awesome teammate, a hard working player, and a good person.” As the season approaches the end, Ernle and the rest of the Wolves look to finish strong as they contend and inch closer with each game for a chance at this year’s playoffs. It won’t be an easy task, but Ernle is up for the challenge as he continues to rake and give his team an opportunity to win every day.
I just feel super confident whether it’s up at the plate or on the mound, it doesn’t really matter to me who you are, I’m going to compete. As for my team, I have a lot of faith in my teammates and we’re going to push towards winning that 2A division title and make the playoffs.” As Ramirez and his teammates have seen this year, the possibilities are endless for Ernle and as he continues to learn and develop throughout his high school career with the Wolves, his dream of earning himself a baseball scholarship is inevitable, as any school would be lucky to welcome a player and more importantly, a person of Owen’s caliber.
Rufugio Jesus Del Cid is a Desert View graduate and a University of Arizona student.