New Mexicans take places on the sports stage to next level

Jul. 7—When the biggest names in baseball take to Coors Field in Denver on July 13 for the Major League All-Star Game, Carlsbad native Trevor Rogers will be right there with them.

The Florida Marlins left-hander who has been one of the sport’s pleasant surprises in 2021 was selected as one of the National League pitchers on Sunday. “Just in complete shock, really, this being my first full season,” Rogers told the Journal by phone. “It’s something you dream of but you don’t really think about until it gets there.”

At the time manager Don Mattingly let him know he had been selected on Sunday, Rogers had struck out 110 batters in 92 1/3 innings this season and beaten two of the National’s League’s best, fellow all-star pitchers Corbin Burns of Milwaukee and Jacob DeGrom of New York, in head-to-head competition.

“My goal is to be the best pitcher in baseball,” he said, “and I’m continuing to work on that.”

His fan base in Carlsbad, where he dazzled as a high school athlete, will no doubt be tuned in. In fact the Carlsbad Current Argus newspaper had this to say when Rogers started his first game in the Major Leagues: “The City of Carlsbad will always consider Aug. 25, 2020 a special day in its history — the day when Carlsbad Caveman alumni Trevor Rogers made his first start in the MLB with a four-inning scoreless performance.

An appearance in the All-Star Game might be a step up even from that.

Rogers isn’t the only New Mexico athlete about to take the big stage.

—Andrea Howard, a former La Cueva standout who plays for the University of New Mexico, on Sunday was named to the Italian national softball team’s final roster to compete in the Tokyo Olympics. The announcement Sunday followed Howard’s sparkling performance in the European Championship, where she started all of Italy’s 11 games and hit .545 with six home runs and 23 RBIs.

“LET’S GET A MEDAL!!!!” she tweeted on Sunday.

Italy plays against the United States on July 21 in Tokyo, or on July 20 at 9 p.m. MDT.

—Albuquerque Academy alum Anika Apostalon will represent the Czech Republic in Tokyo, swimming in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay team. Her mother is from the Czech Republic and Anika has been a dual citizen since 2018. She graduated from Albuquerque Academy in 2013.

Apostolon says it has been a “fantastic journey.” And now-retired Academy coach Dave Barney said, “It’s a great thrill for a coach to have a swimmer who reaches that apex of competition.”

Rogers, Howard and Apostalon have all reached that apex through talent, hard work and determination. Congratulations. The recognition they are receiving is much deserved.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.