Hawaiian native adds speed and flexibility to the Owls’ lineup.
For some people, Hawaii is a dream vacation spot – a land of paradise and perfect beaches.
For junior outfielder and shortstop Jordan Queja, Mililani, Hawaii is home.
Entering his junior year, Queja was recruited by former coach Rob Valli at a baseball showcase in California during his sophomore year. After two years at Monterey Peninsula College in Monterey, Calif., Queja decided to leave the junior college and come to Temple.
“I heard [Temple] was a good academic school,” Queja said.
When offered the opportunity to play Division I baseball, Queja said Temple was a good option to face tougher competition.
“The game is played the same way here as it is anywhere,” Queja said. “The only difference is that the competition is way more intense here. There is more talent in Pennsylvania.”
Queja is currently third on the squad in batting with a .315 average after 23 games. Along with one homerun, Queja has added eight RBIs as well. Starting all 23 games for Temple (10-13, 0-2 Atlantic Ten Conference), Queja has also provided the Owls with outfield defense posting a .943 fielding percentage.
“[Queja] has had a huge impact on our team,” senior captain Steve Nikorak said.
Nikorak said that Queja has been a great addition to the 2012 team and is a “great guy.”
“He is a high energy player and that translates into his game,” Nikorak said.
Last season at Monterey Peninsula College, Queja started all 36 games at shortstop, second base or third base and batted .343 with a conference-best 23 stolen bases. Queja was named a preseason All-American for Northern California and was a first-team selection as an infielder for the Coast Pacific Conference.
“[Queja] is a very versatile and tremendous athlete,” coach Ryan Wheeler said. “He is currently our leadoff man and is setting the table for us offensively.”
As the leadoff man, Queja leads the team with six stolen bases in eight attempts.
Though Wheeler did not recruit Queja, he hopes that Queja’s success on the team can set an example for more possible West Coast recruits in the upcoming years.
“[Queja] opens the door for more recruits looking for the chance to play at the Division I level here at Temple,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler described the 5-foot 7-inch-tall shortstop as a shy, quiet player who does not say a lot, but fits in well with the rest of the team.
“[Queja] is a hardworking player who goes out there and busts his tail every day,” Wheeler said. “I hope he continues with his solid play and continues to lead our team by example.”
Since the beginning of the year, Queja has focused on one goal for his new team.
“I want to win the Atlantic Ten Championship this season,” Queja said.
John Murrow can be reached at email@example.com.