A team player

Page's Littleman contributes to Arizona's NCAA baseball title

By Candace Begody
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, July 5, 2012

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(Courtesy photo - Arizona Athletic Media Relations)

Vincent Littleman, from LeChee, Ariz., a junior at the University of Arizona, is the first Navajo to pitch for the Wildcats baseball team. He is majoring in agribusiness economics and management.



V incent Littleman was not the ace pitcher when his team, the University of Arizona Wildcats, defeated the two-time defending champion South Carolina for the College World Series and National Collegete Athletic Association baseball title June 25 in Omaha, Neb.

In fact, Littleman spent most of the baseball season and the series on the bench and in the bullpen watching his teammates.

"My role was first out of the bullpen," said Littleman, a junior and an agribusiness economics and management major. "It might not be my ideal role but sometimes you have to make that sacrifice."

When the Wildcats secured the national title, Littleman, one of four left-handed pitchers, began celebrating with his teammates knowing that he contributed immensely to the team and the win by simply accepting his role.

"When you're in that spot, you have to do anything to win," said the LeChee, Ariz., native. "You have to look on the bright side - we're the best team in America."

In addition to being on the best college baseball team, Littleman said part of that is being one of a handful of Native Americans playing on a Division I team.

"I look back to where I've been and where I come from," he said. "And if you dream of something or you find that certain something and you want to go after it, there's nothing standing in the way but you. That's what I've always believed in."

Littleman takes pride in being an epitome of the team player.

"For us, the team comes first, there's no selfish game, we do anything to help the team whether it's to work hard during practice or keeping things positive on the bench," he said. "Great things happen when you put your team in front of you. Being that team player is really important and we won because we had a team camaraderie."

That mindset allowed Littleman to toil through practice and step up when the team needed him, qualities that Wildcat head coach Andy Lopez has taken note of.


"He's a good young guy, he works hard, he's a good teammate and he makes the other players better by forcing competition," said Lopez, an 11-year head coach. "Once you leave high school you have to realize you won't be the superstar anymore and you will be playing with a lot of superstars - he was able to accept that."

As for next year, Lopez said, "I hope he'll improve on his skills. I would like to see him get better. We have some key players coming back and we're going to try like crazy to see that everyone improves."

Needless to say, Littleman said his team is looking to defend their title next year.

"Everyone's going to want a piece of us but we're hungry and we want to win it all again," Littleman said. "It'll be my last year so I'm trying to go out on a good note and do everything I can to help the team but this time, I want to play in front of the crowd in Omaha. It's no time to step back and take a break."

Littleman, who started in two games this season, credits his parents Raymond Littleman and Mae Curley, his family and coach for completing his third successful year.

"My family has always been there for me," he said. "They've seen me at my worst and my best. When I'm down and don't feel like I belong here, they tell me keep going and that it'll get better."

Littleman said he's also taken Lopez' words to heart.

"My coach has always said, 'You can be nicest guy off the field but when you're on the field, I want you to be an animal, don't give in to the batter,'" Littleman said. "On every pitch someone is giving in. Don't give up and don't be that let down. Set high goals for yourself and reach them."

Arizona completed the season with a 48-17 record. Littleman finished the season having pitched 23 innings with 15 strikeouts. He tallied a 0-1 record and a 6.20 ERA.

"I have a lot better days left in me and all I need to do is pursue it," he said.

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