Coming from a small school in Eastern Washington, David Garza never saw himself traveling halfway across the country to play baseball.
But the former all-state shortstop from Othello doesn't regret taking a leap of faith.
Garza, 23, just finished his senior year for Tennessee Tech, which had one of the best seasons in school history.
The Golden Eagles, with one of the best records in college baseball at 53-12, were eliminated by Texas in the Austin Super Regional on Monday, falling one win short of their first College World Series appearance.
Garza, who graduated in May with a master's in sports management, also was drafted in the 38th round of the recent Major League Baseball draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
"It was a great season," Garza said. "We had a great group of guys and it was a blast. We had a bunch of guys (eight) on the team get picked in the draft. We set a record (for guys drafted) as a team, and now to see guys continue their careers is awesome."
And the cherry on top? The past two seasons, Garza was a semifinalist for the Brooks Wallace Award for the top shortstop in college baseball.
That means he ranked at the top of the 297 Division I college baseball programs this year.
With his season ending just a couple of days ago, Garza is waiting to hear from the Diamondbacks.
"We are still trying to figure things out," he said. "We just got back, so they are giving me a little space. Once I get to Arizona and get signed, I will see where I will go. They have a couple of teams in the Northwest that are close to home."
If Garza is assigned to short season ball, he'd likely end up with the Hillsboro Hops of the Northwest League, while a rookie ball assignment could land him with the Missoula Osprey of the Pioneer League in Montana.
From Othello to Tennessee
Garza, a 2013 graduate of Othello, didn't have any big plans coming out of high school. He'd torn his ACL in a state football playoff game his senior year against Prosser. He missed the upcoming basketball and baseball seasons.
He landed at Edmonds Community College, where a torn meniscus forced him to miss his first year of college baseball.
He played one season for the Tritons before heading to Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.
"One of the coaches from Tennessee Tech was down scouting the NWAC," Garza said. "They wanted to fly me out for a visit. I wasn't sure, especially when it was to a school I had never heard of."
"I didn't take the offer originally, then things came back around," he said. "Once I got there, it was amazing. It matched up with my personality and my beliefs. Just to be part of something like this is special. Cookeville is a second home to me."
Garza married his high school sweetheart, Kenzie, before moving to Cookeville. They will celebrate their third anniversary next week.
Garza played three seasons at Tennessee Tech, appearing in 182 games. For his career, he hit .300 with 214 hits, 43 doubles, 24 home runs and 137 RBIs. His fielding percentage was .949.
"For me, from Day 1, I had my eyes set on something bigger," Garza said. "Just because I'm from a small town doesn't mean it won't happen."
A magical season
The Golden Eagles, who compete in the Ohio Valley Conference, set a team and league record for wins (53) this season, and at one point, won 28 games in a row — the longest streak in the nation this year.
Garza was a big part of Tennessee Tech's success this season. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound infielder started all 65 games this season, hitting .311.
He had 82 hits that included 17 doubles, 17 home runs and 72 RBIs. He also scored 69 runs and his fielding percentage was .948. He was named to the OVC second team.
His home runs and RBIs are the most in school history by a shortstop for a single season.
"I was blessed to have great coaches and mentors who encouraged me that I could play at the highest level," Garza said.
Once the Golden Eagles got the Super Regionals, they felt they belonged.
They won the first game against Texas 5-4, but lost the second one 4-2. In the final game, Texas came away with a 5-2 win to advance to the CWS for the 36th time.
"We gave it everything we had," Garza said. "We told ourselves we have an opportunity to win a national championship. If we aren't going to play for the big trophy, what are we doing here?"