Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
With his family watching, Madera Coyotes baseball player Brian Hefner, middle. signs his National Letter of Intent to Fresno Pacific University. From left are are mother Suzy, sister Brielle, Hefner, grandmother Anna Hardy and father Brian.
For the past decade, there has been a Madera Coyote playing with the Fresno Pacific Sunbirds’ baseball team and Brian Hefner will continue that trend next season.
With Tristen Alvarez playing his senior season, Hefner will begin his freshman season after signing his National Letter of Intent to play at the school.
“It’s awesome,” Hefner said. “I get to play with Tristen one more year. It was just like high school where I played with him for a year. We texted a little bit. He came out for a few practices and I talked to him. He told me he was telling his coaches how good I was.”
Hefner ended a terrific senior season as a two-way player after an average junior season. He said that if he didn’t have a good senior season, he wasn’t even going to pursue playing baseball in college.
“I was surprised how good my senior year was,” he said. Before my senior season, unless I had a good year, I didn’t want to play college ball, even at Fresno City.”
Hefner ended his senior season with great year, batting .337. He led the Coyotes in hits (34), RBIs (29) and home runs (4). His most memorable hit was a ninth inning grand slam in a win over Madera South in April.
After not pitching at all in his first three season, Hefner became the ace of the staff going 6-3 in 12 starts with a 1.35 ERA. He struck out 59 batters in 57 innings pitched and allowed just 11 runs all season.
Hefner appeared on Fresno Pacific’s radar after attending a camp at the school after his sophomore season.
“I haven’t had a really good season since,” he said. “I had a really good senior year so that made me want to play next year. I got in contact with them again. He got back to me again and were interested again. They wanted me on a visit, so I went. I went around the campus and told them I wanted to go there and they said they will do what they can to make it work. I waited around for a few weeks. They called me and got all the numbers and gave me a full ride. I was pretty excited.”
Before Fresno Pacific came with an offer, he was going to play at Fresno City College, although he said if he got any other offers from a four-year school, he would have taken it.
“I was pretty stressed,” he said. “I focused on the baseball season. I was stressed where I was going. I didn’t know what FPU was going to offer.”
He played first base and pitched at Madera, but doesn’t know what he will do when he gets to Fresno Pacific.
“They just liked my work ethic,” Hefner said. “My other coaches tell them about it. They didn’t tell me where I would be playing.”
Hefner hasn’t decided on a major, but would like to go into engineering. Since Fresno Pacific doesn’t have an engineering program, he will work on his general ed.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Hefner said. “It seems like a dream.”
With Hefner signing with Fresno Pacific, it will being a sibling rivalry into the Hefner household. His older sister Brielle is a senior volleyball player at Fresno State.
“Watching her, (Alec) Gamboa and Tristen sign made me want to do it a little more,” Brian said. “My sister will be able to watch me play.
“It’s a great feeling to sign. I didn’t know what I was going to do for four years. Now, I have a plan to follow, so it’s awesome.”