Year That Was 2021

Year That Was: August’s Top Five Developments in Southern Arizona



Andre Jackson while at Cienega (Andy Morales/

Former Cienega standout Andre Jackson was elevated form the Tulsa Drillers to the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers a recently and he took the next step with a spot on the 40-man roster for the Dodgers on Aug. 16. Jackson was a standout at Utah and he was taken in the 12th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers. “Every parent wants the best for their kid, but this was more than we could have ever asked for,” his mother Chach Jackson said. “He has made us so very proud. He has worked so hard and overcome so much to make it this far. To make his debut with the Dodgers at Dodgers stadium was an incredible experience. We are so thankful for our “village” that has supported him since his Little League days. That village was cheering loud and proud last night and we are honored to share this moment with all of them!”


Arizona and its fans do not have to go far to be part of the new Pac-12 tournament (Arizona Athletics photo)

The Pac-12 announced Aug. 25 the creation of a conference championship event for baseball in partnership with the City of Scottsdale and The Arizona Sports & Entertainment Commission. The inaugural Pac-12 Baseball Tournament is scheduled for May 25-29, 2022 at Scottsdale Stadium. The double-elimination tournament will be spread over five days at the spring training home of the San Francisco Giants. The top eight teams in the conference standings at the conclusion of the regular season will earn berths in the Pac-12 Baseball Tournament, from which the champion will receive the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Pac-12’s initial agreement with the City of Scottsdale runs through 2024.


(Palo Verde photo)

Palo Verde High School canceled its varsity football season Aug. 20 due to a lack of participants, specifically upperclassmen with experience at the varsity level, according to head coach Mike Wells and assistant coach Keith Smith Sr. Smith mentioned the Titans, in the Class 4A Gila region, had only two seniors, two juniors and four sophomores as part of a 31-man roster that showed up to practice this fall. Wells added, “With only two seniors and a total of four players that have played high school football at any level we feel it is best for our program (to cancel the varsity schedule). Very difficult decision but the safety of our players is our highest priority.”


Nick Gonzales while at Cienega (Andy Morales/

Former Cienega standout Nick Gonzales, a former All-American at New Mexico State, earned a ranking of being the No. 4 prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. He missed six weeks due to a broken finger and returned to the lineup on June 26. Gonzales went 4 for 6 with three home runs, four runs and eight RBIs — all career highs in the minors — in leading High-A Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate Greensboro (N.C.) on Aug. 29. He also tied a career-high with his four hits in the 19-11 win over Asheville. The performance follows an Aug. 8 game with two home runs, five RBIs and 10 total bases. He also tallied four hits in games on Aug. 13 and Aug. 22. He had 10 multi-hit games in August and 23 this season. Gonzales then hit two home runs, including a walk-off a grand slam Aug. 31 against the Hudson Valley Renegades. It was his fifth home run and 15th RBI in two games. The Pirates’ first-round pick of the 2020 MLB Draft batted .364 with 10 home runs, one triple, 10 doubles, 28 RBIs and 81 total bases during in August. “I almost feel like I’m back in college again,” Gonzales told reporters. “I’m out there having a blast and not worrying about any particular outcomes. I’m trusting that all the work I do before games will pay off and lately, that’s how it’s been. The season has gone so quickly. I’m just enjoying being around my teammates and everything that comes with it.” 


Jedd Fisch kept the QB controversy alive by going with two to start the season (Arizona Athletics photo)

Arizona coach Jedd Fisch announced Aug. 24 that the Wildcats will go with a two-quarterback system to start the season — implementing Gunner Cruz and Will Plummer. Fisch said it was still too close to call. He set no timetable on when he’ll go with one. He was still not clear how he will use – or how often – his quarterbacks but that the two will play in the season-opener against Brigham Young on Sept. 4.

NEXT: A look at the top five developments of September 2021

CLICK ON THIS LINK to access a complete rundown of the top developments of August 2021 in Southern Arizona

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FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator five years ago and is presently a special education teacher at Gallego Fine Arts Intermediate in the Sunnyside Unified School District

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