Athlete Spotlight: Michael Stanford


Photo courtesy of Hudson Myers, Micahel Stanford getting ready to deliver a pitch

Born and raised in Thousand Oaks, California, Michael Stanford has played baseball since he was four. Stanford enjoyed playing many sports at a young age. However, baseball was the sport he settled on in high school. Stanford credits his family for playing a significant role in his decision to pursue baseball.

“It mostly had to do with my father and grandfather’s love for the game,” said Stanford. “Having baseball always around me sort of drove me in that direction.”

Just like the rest of the athletes in the world, Stanford was forced to shut down the sport during the COVID-19 pandemic. This halt of playing presented a big roadblock for Stanford and left him with a big decision.

“It canceled my senior season, which broke my heart, to be honest,” Stanford recalls. “It made me lose my love for the game. I didn’t pick up a ball for eight months. I had a mentor remind me that I could have a future in this sport, and even with his advice, COVID took away the urge to want to do it. Slowly, I got back into things, and I am so glad that I did.”

Even though Stanford found his love for baseball again coming out of the pandemic, one big question was still looming: where was he going to play? After spending a summer in the Palm Springs Collegiate League, that question was answered. Stanford decided to attend College of the Desert.

“With no looks out of high school, these coaches made me feel like I could maximize my potential in baseball, as well as their strong backgrounds. That’s why I chose to come play for COD.”

Photo courtesy of Conejo Oaks. Michael Stanford delivering a pitch.

In his first season in the desert, it was safe to say Stanford’s potential was shown. He compiled a 2.90 ERA with 44 strikeouts over 49.2 innings pitched. In addition, Stanford took home the first-team IEAC award and a Reliever of the Year award. Even with all this success, Stanford went into the summer playing for the Conejo Oaks and looked to improve even more.

“I got into the gym more consistently this summer, as well as improving my mental side of pitching”, he says. “For example, being mentally strong and not letting my opponents know how I am feeling, but making my presence known whenever they step in the box. I also transitioned to starting this summer. I learned how to mix my pitches more effectively and to have them tunnel better.”

After many successes, Stanford has been reached out to by schools such as Western Kentucky University, Oral Roberts University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. Even with that being the case, Stanford has his eyes set on this season.

“After being named first-team and Reliever of the Year, I want to become a starter for us, and my goal is to win Pitcher of the Year. As far as the team goes, I expect us to dominate our conference and bring home our second consecutive conference title,” said Stanford. “I expect us to make a deep state playoff run this season. We have a lot of returning guys and a lot of potentials for everyone to get better.”