Sun Belt College League

Sun Belt College League All-Stars vs. Mexican team, fireworks entertain Kino Stadium crowd

An overflow crowd by the time the Fourth of July fireworks show took place on Thursday night at Kino Stadium was first entertained by the Sun Belt College League All-Stars taking on Universidad Estatal de Sonora from Mexico.

It was a festive atmosphere that brought life back to the park that once served as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ spring training home from 1998 to 2010. The Tucson Padres, the Triple-A affilite of the San Diego Padres, ceased operations at the park in 2013.

It’s been a long 10 to 15 years of Tucson feeling the void of spring and summer professional baseball.

The Tucson Saguaros, an independent team in the Pecos League, have tried to the best of their ability to provide fans entertaining baseball.

According to multiple sources in step with baseball operations locally, the sport in Tucson at this time of year and in the spring may get a jolt more than the annual Fourth of July events Kino Baseball League provides with American Legion and Sun Belt College League all-star games.

The World Baseball Classic qualifier is on its way to Kino Stadium in the spring and the possibility exists that spring-training games will take place at the park between major-league “B” teams, according to sources.

Minor-league baseball may also return to Tucson next summer or in 2026 with the Diamondbacks’ Single-A operations moving here.

The exhibition Thursday night was played without a scoreboard. The scoreboard has been removed at Kino Stadium with plans in place to install a large video board similar to what is at Hi Corbett Field, another indication significant baseball operations are about to take place at the park.

Thursday’s event started with Sunnyside four-time state wrestling champion Audrey Jimenez, the first female to win a state title competing against boys, throwing out the first pitch. Jimenez, a world-class wrestler, is an alternate for the Team USA wrestling team that will compete in Paris. She is headed to Lehigh University.

Among the players representing the Sun Belt College League All-Stars were former Marana two-sport standout Isaiah Roebuck and Arizona mechanical engineering student Aaron Alba.

Roebuck is excelling in both sports at University of Jamestown (N.D.).

A senior this upcoming school year, Roebuck caught 35 passes for 514 yards with five touchdowns last year in football and is batting .303 with two home runs, 26 RBIs and 23 stolen bases in his baseball career there. He is playing this summer in the Sun Belt College League at Kino Sports Complex. His brother Dezmen Roebuck is a highly touted Class of 2025 wide receiver with who has committed to Washington.

Alba is an interesting story of a person competing in the Sun Belt College League this summer despite not playing baseball for a college.

He is a Class of 2023 standout right-hander and infielder from El Paso Eastlake High School attending Arizona on a mechanical engineering full-ride scholarship. He will be a sophomore at Arizona this school year.

He is playing this summer in the Sun Belt College Baseball League with the hopes of either walking on with the Wildcats or getting a shot elsewhere. He is batting .300 with a home run and four RBIs and is 4-0 with a 2.24 ERA (31 srikeouts and nine walks) for the Northwest Red Raiders of the Sun Belt College League.

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 in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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