VAN ALSTYNE — If there was any question about playing at the college level, the one posed to Samuel Tormos was: pitcher or hitter?
The Van Alstyne senior has excelled at both during his decorated career for the Panthers.
“There were some schools that wanted me as a two-way player,” Tormos said. “I personally wanted to be an infielder and a hitter.”
For more than a year Tormos knew where he wanted to be and he made it official when he signed his letter of intent to play baseball for the University of Houston.
He chose the Cougars over his other Division I offers from Wichita State and Tulane.
“I only went on one visit. When I went on my visit there, toured the campus and met the coaches I knew that it was the perfect fit for me,” Tormos said. “It felt like home. The plan is to go in there and play freshman year. I'll work hard and see what happens.”
In his junior season he helped lead Van Alstyne to a 29-6 record and a Class 3A state semifinal appearance before losing to Blanco, Tormos hit .482 with 15 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 32 RBI, 18 steals, 27 runs and had a .604 on-base percentage. As a pitcher he was 6-2 with a 1.67 earned run average with 53 strikeouts, 19 walks and 37 hits allowed in 46 innings.
He was the District 10-3A Offensive Most Valuable Player and a second-team all-state selection at shortstop.
When his senior year begins in a couple of months, more big things will be expected.
“We lost some seniors, who we're going to miss, but we're still going to be good. We're ready for it for sure,” Tormos said. “We have great coaches and we're going to be a group that's ready to go.”
As a sophomore, he earned first-team all-district honors as a pitcher.
Tormos is also a standout basketball player, earning all-region honors as a sophomore and again as a junior, when he was the 10-3A Offensive Player of the Year, and was the anchor leg on the Panthers' state championship 1,600 relay this past spring with a time of 3:20. He was also on the state qualifying relay that finished sixth in his sophomore year.
“I love baseball,” Tormos said. “That's what I always wanted to do.”
Houston went 32-24 last season, the seventh straight season with at least 30 wins, and 12-12 to finish fourth in the American Athletic Conference standings. The 207 wins over the past six seasons are the 12th-most in the country.
The program has made 22 NCAA Tournament appearances, including four since 2014, played in four Super Regionals and won 16 conference titles, the last being back-to-back crowns in 2017-18. The Cougars have qualified for the College World Series twice, the last in 1967 when they were the national runner-up.
In addition to numerous draft picks — including 15 across the last three drafts — Houston's major league alums include All-Stars Jesse Crain, Michael Bourn, Woody Williams and Tom Paciorek, Cy Young winner Doug Drabek, former Rangers manager Jeff Banister and current Texas reliever Kyle Dowdy.
“It's a good baseball school and has had a lot of success,” Tormos said. “When there's better competition I feel like I perform better and am excited to be a part of what they're doing there.”