Leon Watkins / The Advocate
Childhood aspirations of future careers come in many different forms.
However, the opportunity to manifest them lie in the perseverance and dedication of pursuing adolescent dreams.
For Contra Costa College pitcher Jake Dent, living and breathing baseball has been a way of life since he was 3 years old.
“My dad was my coach and got me into Little League and ever since then I had a passion for it,” Dent said. “I played third base for a while and have always been an average hitter up until college, but I had an above average arm that could throw strikes”
Through adamant encouragement from his parents, Dent faced the struggles of size difference and competitiveness as he transitioned from playing with local teams to playing travel ball around the Bay Area.
“I was above average as a kid and then coming into middle school I got into better competition and I jumped back to below average,” he said. “This kind of discouraged me from wanting to play but I overcame that and trained more.”
Being trained on improving skills such as accuracy, speed and release point by personal coaches, Dent’s determination prevailed.
His work ethic yielded growth that began to outshine his opponents.
“One of my coaches, Mike Lee, once told me, you have to go out there and want the game. You gotta want to win every single game and go out there like you’re that guy,” Dent said. “I looked at from another perspective — like it’s not little league anymore.”
But once getting to high school, Dent realized the true potential of his powerful arm and began harnessing his pitching abilities and focusing them toward strikeouts and team wins.
“Because I went to those coaches, I was a lot better than the competition we played,” he said.
With years of experience and growth within the constructs of baseball, Dent, after graduating from Pinole Valley High School, enrolled at CCC in 2015 with hopes of honing his pitching and leadership skills.
In his first year as a Comet, Dent threw 85 to 86 mph pitches, however, after working out prior to his sophomore season, the pitcher raised his MPH to 92 miles per hour on the radar gun.
“I told him (Dent) one day that he has the chance to get drafted,” CCC pitching coach Josh Cephas said. “He (Dent) started going to the gym every day and lost a lot of weight. Jake (Dent) likes to be the stand out guy but he works hard every day and wants to be better than everyone he is playing with and against.”
Providing a beacon of hope for a Comet baseball team that struggled throughout most of the 2018 season, Dent’s 13 starting appearances was a much need weapon for vital wins.
With 53 strikeouts, four wins, eight loses and 88.2 innings pitched, Dent provided momentum and sustainability for the team when needed the most.
“Jake (Dent) was the leader of the team this year and someone everyone looked up to,” fellow sophomore pitcher Kyle Brown said. “He was our best pitcher and arguably the best pitcher in the league if you ask us. Everyone really looked at him as the guy. We knew that we needed to follow his lead to try and get to where we wanted to be.”
Brown, who has known Dent since the eighth grade, said Dent is a game changer who brought star power to the team.
“His arm might hurt but he will still go out there and do his thing or whatever coach is asking him to do,” Brown said. “He’s a very good leader that never backs down from a challenge. So, you kind of take that and build around it.”
Dent, who is majoring in kinesiology plans to transfer to Sonoma State where he will play baseball for two years.
“After I graduate from a university, I plan to go into the draft as a pitcher and work my way up.”