Noel Soto deals against Cal State LA last April. | Courtesy of CPP Athletics

Noel Soto wins second-career CCAA Pitcher of the Week award

By Kasai Childress, March 5, 2024

Noel Soto received his second-career CCAA Pitcher of the Week award Feb. 12, after orchestrating six shutout innings and allowing just three hits during CPP’s 10-2 victory over Azusa Pacific University.

The Broncos won the overall series 3-1 and Soto was a major factor in those victories.

“Last year I had a bit of a low to start the season before finding my stride in the end,” said Soto. “It’s good that I was able to go into the off-season and build off that with this award. It’s a great honor to be named the best pitcher in the conference for that week.”

Baseball was first introduced to Soto by his father when he was just 5 years old. Coming from a Dominican background, baseball has always been in his blood and an integral part of his culture and family life.

“I first started with tee ball right before kindergarten,” Soto said. “My dad was that one enforcer to push me to practice and play hard.”

Soto’s collegiate career started at Long Beach City College where he played two seasons for the Vikings in 2019 and 2020. In his first year, he recorded 33 strikeouts, a 4.91 ERA, and a .255 batting average. In his final year in Long Beach, which was cut short due to the pandemic, he improved drastically with a 2.41 ERA, a .308 batting average, and 33 strikeouts to end his career at LBCC.

His career at Cal Poly Pomona started following a conversation with his former baseball coach about how the Broncos were interested in his game.

Back when Soto was younger, he lived in Pomona and knew at an early age he didn’t want to be there forever. However, getting into his baseball career eventually led him back to his old stomping grounds and now he is grateful for It.

“The coaches at Long Beach were very player-centric and enabled the guys to go ahead and do their thing,” said Soto. “Coming here to CPP, the coaches are along that same path, and you see it with how good the program is. Back as a kid I never wanted to come back to Pomona, but it’s honestly been the best decision I’ve made so far.”

To become a successful pitcher like Soto, a significant amount of preparation and sacrifice is essential. Having early morning classes and practices throughout the day requires extensive attention. It can be easy to forget about the little things that matter in life.

“I’m very family-oriented and like to spend time with my family during weekends,” said Soto. “We enjoy listening to music, playing dominoes, and having family meals together. In my own downtime, I really enjoy the outdoors whether that be the beach or taking a hike.”

Since Soto’s arrival at CPP, he has been a key factor in the Bronco’s success. In his first season, he accumulated 54 strikeouts, a 3.57 ERA, and won his first Pitcher of the Week award on April 11, 2022, after throwing the team’s first nine-inning shutout since 2019.

The following season ended with ups and downs. Soto’s ERA was higher at 4.93 and finished with eight fewer strikeouts than the year before. However, his batting average improved to .277 on the year. So far in 2024, his ERA is 3.86 and he’s batting .209 to start the season.

Randy Betten, head coach of the team, envisioned something special in Soto even prior to his success at CPP and knew he and his staff wanted Soto to play for the green and gold from the start.

“We felt that Noel could come here to CPP and help immediately,” said Betten. “He’s always well prepared and a leader in his own right.”

Soto was challenged early on by his coaches to start the season off swinging sooner rather than later. Betten shared that Soto started off his first year at CPP slow but finished the year off strong. He wanted to see that fire catch on earlier in the season and this Pitcher of the Week award is exactly what he wanted from his talent on the mound.

Expectations for this season are higher than ever, according to Soto. He completed one of his goals already for the year which included winning pitcher of the week. A few others include winning pitcher of the year as well as winning the NCAA DII World Series.

“We’ve been dead set on going all the way this year,” said Soto. “My first year we were able to win the conference tournament and now we’re ready for something more.”

Soto and the rest of the Broncos kept the ball rolling in their conference opener against Chico State from Feb. 23 to 25, splitting the series with the Wildcats. After a 3-1 loss against Cal State Monterey Bay the next weekend, CPP looks to bounce back against Cal State East Bay this weekend.

Feature image courtesy of CPP Athletics

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