Pitching Towards Success


Emma Padelford

Hard work and focus can take you very far in life. When you stay devoted to what you love and put in the time and effort it takes to be good at it, then you will be very successful. This person has put in all the hard work he has to get where he is today. For a senior at Mountain Ridge, doing what he loves is an important thing in his life.

    Since he was three, baseball has been a huge part of Matthew Liberatore’s life. Liberatore was interviewed back in October to find out more about his baseball career. In his early career, he played for a club team here in Arizona. When he turned fourteen, he began competing in national games with a different team. He has won many awards, such as a USA gold medal, MV pitcher, and All State for AZ Prep’s All Region. He decided to become a pitcher when recruiters began to notice his talent. He thought that if that’s what he should be focusing on, then all of his time should be devoted to it, and so he made pitching his position.

    Liberatore tried out for the National USA team, and he went to Canada with his team to compete. In Canada, his team won, and brought home the gold medal.  

    “Going to Canada, and playing for Team USA was the perfect end to a perfect summer,” says Liberatore.

     In order to be successful, it’s good to have a teacher to guide you along the path towards success. Through all of his success, Matthew believes that his best coach and role model was his dad.

    “He got me started in the game, and taught me all the fundamentals,” says Liberatore. “And I couldn’t appreciate him more for that.”

    Matthew is considered one of the best baseball players in the state, but that doesn’t keep him from continuing to work hard.

    “It’s a cool feeling, but it’s also pretty humbling,” says Liberatore. “I can think I’m good in Arizona, then I go out and play with some of the other guys in the country, who are better than me, and I just have to keep my head down and not let it get to me.”

     Matthew knows that there are players who are better than him, which helps keep him in check. Knowing that you’re not the best will help you stay humble, and will help you to keep working hard.

     Matthew says that some of his biggest challenges were keeping himself from being lazy and balancing sports and school. To prevent laziness, he says that he always wants to make sure he is doing something to keep him focused. Training for his games helps him keep his focus. Matthew prepares himself both physically and mentally while he trains. Liberatore begins preparing a few days before the game to boost his success. He tries to imagine himself doing well in his game, and he tries to keep his thoughts positive. He tries to eat healthy a week prior to his game, and as a game approaches, he begins eating more carb loaded meals. On the day of the game, he eats a good breakfast and starts stretching and throwing a couple practice pitches. Matthew also says that balancing sports and school is tough. But this year, he only has two classes, so he tries to get all of his school work done during and after school. After his homework is complete, he gets back to work on baseball. Liberatore typically spends two to four hours on baseball a day, practicing five to six days a week.

    When he is not playing baseball, he works out and spends time with friends.    

    “When I have some free time that’s not used for working out or school, I like to hang out with friends, and just feel like a normal teenager for a little bit. Then go back to work.”

    It’s difficult to not have a normal teen life, and when you do get time to be a regular teenager, it can be hard to get back to work. But Liberatore is able to know  when it’s time to focus.

     Liberatore says that his best baseball achievement was winning the gold medal in Canada.

    “Winning the medal was pretty unreal,” says Liberatore. “I’m the most proud of all the hard work that I’ve put into get where I am right now, and being able to see it pay off.”

    Liberatore has been recruited by ten colleges. A few of those colleges are in Arizona, Texas, Virginia, Florida, Oregon, and California. In his junior year, he decided to commit to the University of Arizona. There, he hopes to go into the College World Series. After college, Liberatore hopes that baseball will continue to be a part of his life, and he wants to play professionally.

    For the rest of the semester, Liberatore says that he will focus on working out and preparing for his last baseball season as a high school student, this spring. His goals for the team include winning all of the games, and winning the state championships.

    “My high school career will be a success if I have fun. I enjoy playing baseball and being out there with all the guys I go to school with,” says Liberatore. “Regardless if we do win the state championship or not, I think if we go out there and we compete and have fun, then that is success.”

    Since October, Liberatore has won awards and titles such as Under Armour All American MVP, and has become one of the top 5 pitchers of his division, in the world. He has been placed at number 4, out of 50 high school and college ranked players. Liberatore thinks being considered one of the top 5 in the world is really great, but he wants to go even further into his career.

   “It’s really cool, but in the big picture, I still really haven’t accomplished anything yet, obviously my goal is to have as long of a career in the big leagues as possible. And so it’s nice to see that some of my hard work has paid off. But it’s never close to where I want to be,” says Liberatore.

    Liberatore is also facing the realistic possibility of getting drafted into Major League Baseball shortly after graduation.  

    “I think if I wanted to get drafted now, I would need to focus on the regular day to day things,” says Liberatore. “Trying to be as strong as possible, trying to be as good of an athlete as possible, trying to help Mountain Ridge win State Championship, and I think if I just focus on that, and don’t worry about the other stuff, that will take care of itself.”

    There will be scouts at all of Liberatore’s games to watch him play. If he gets drafted, he would start in Rookie Ball, then work his way up to the Big Leagues. The draft will take place on June 4th. Every MLB team has a certain amount of picks, that go by rounds. There are about 40 rounds, and each team gets a pick in every round. They draft the top high score of college or junior college talent. Next they assign the players to the teams, and then the players go play professional baseball. Despite the pressure of having scouts at his games, Liberatore will continue to work hard.

    “I just go out there and do what I do, and whatever happens, happens,” says Liberatore.

    Overall, Liberatore’s career has brought him lots of excitement and success. He says that baseball has taught him a lot through the years, and that it has shaped him into who he is today.

    “I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I think being in this position is really cool, it has taught me a lot of life lessons, how to handle things such as failure, how to talk to people, how to be social,” says Liberatore. “And I think that if I never played baseball, then I wouldn’t have learned those life lessons and be able to handle things the way I do today. So I am definitely grateful for everything that I’ve experienced to this point.”

     Matthew has been able to work hard and preserver through his challenges to get where he is today. With the good views and work ethic he has, he will make it very far in his baseball career.