HUNTSVILLE -- Heath Donica's presence on the mound and ability to fool hitters led to one of the most dominant seasons for a Sam Houston State pitcher in recent memory.
The right-hander will have the opportunity to continue that journey in professional baseball after being selected in the 21st round with the 621st overall pick by the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
The selection comes on the same day that Donica was named Third-Team All-America by Perfect Game. In two seasons with Sam Houston, the Corsicana native posted a 19-7 record and 2.98 ERA.
Donica was particularly dominant in 2017, striking out 109 hitters -- the most in Division I program lore and the second-most in team history. His 205 career total ranks fourth by a Bearkat.
The Corsicana High School product was named Southland Conference Pitcher of the Year, notching a 6-0 record in league play behind a 2.28 ERA while limiting league foes to a .223 average.
The selection comes a day after Bryce Johnson was drafted in the sixth round by the San Francisco Giants, extending the Beparkats' draft selections to 12-straight years.
Donica becomes the 56th player in team history to be drafted and third to be selected by Oakland, joining Brent Powers (2011) and Colt Atwood (2014).
Heath Donica on finding out he got drafted...
"It was wild. I was keeping up with it but not too much. I was trying to stay clam. I actually stopped watching for a little bit. I was hanging out with my girlfriend. All of a sudden, my phone started blowing up. I wasn't really expecting it. All of a sudden, I get a call saying welcome to Oakland. I feel humbled right now. I don't know how else to put it. There have been so many people that have had an impact. So much has gone into this. It's so much more than what I've done. There have been so many people who have influenced my life. This is for all of them too, not just me. I wouldn't even be close to being here without Coach Deggs and coach Sirianni. My family has sacrificed from the time I was five years old. I had a dream and they supported me 100 percent. I couldn't have done it without them and my girlfriend. My experience at Sam Houston wouldn't have been what it without her."
Heath Donica on his time at Sam Houston State...
"From the time I came on my visit to Sam Houston, I wasn't promised anything. When I sat in coach Deggs' office, they said they'd give me a scholarship and give me a chance. They taught me how to work for it. They taught me how to seize the opportunity. That is something I will take for the rest of my life. You never know what's possible. They taught me how to be a worker and a grinder. They taught me how to be the same guy every day no matter the circumstance."
Head coach Matt Deggs on Heath Donica being drafted...
"We're really excited. He is one of the good ones. He deserves this opportunity. He's the type that will make the most of it. I saw a professional in the way he went about his business, competed and his ability to get hitters out. I am expecting Heath to go out and grind and make it."
Head coach Matt Deggs on the professionalism of Donica...
"He has been raised the right way. He's an old-school throwback that takes a lot of pride in his preparation. He understands who he is and what his game is all about. He pitches his game. He never tries to do too much. He knows his strengths and limitations which makes him a really good pitcher. The A's got them a good one. That's a great pick for them. It's a steal for them in my opinion."