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Arizona State's Spence not a typical senior

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Arizona State's Josh Spence isn't a typical All-American pitcher.

After compiling fantastic numbers as a junior last season, Spence had an opportunity to sign as a third-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels. Most All-American pitchers would've signed. Spence didn't.

Despite overtures from the Angels, Spence didn't care about the money or the fame of being a professional baseball player. At least not yet.

Many players dream of cashing in on their talent. Spence just isn't in a hurry to move on.

"I just love the college life in general here at Arizona State," Spence said. "I'm just a very strong believer that it's not always the goal that is important, it's the journey that many times means the most. If not for experiences like these I wouldn't be the person I am today."

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Josh Spence hopes to have a great senior season for the Devils.
(US Presswire)

Many college baseball players grew up watching LSU use Gorilla Ball to win national titles. Not Spence. He grew up playing baseball in Australia with hopes of one day playing in the United States.

His dream became a reality at Central Arizona Junior College. And after two solid seasons there, Arizona State called on the talented left-hander and former Sun Devils coach Pat Murphy offered him a scholarship.

Murphy and other Arizona State insiders raved about Spence's ability prior to last season. It didn't take long for the nation to find out why.

On the mound, Spence posted a 2.37 ERA in 103 2/3 innings. He also held opposing teams to a .240 batting average and finished the season with 125 strikeouts. Off the field, Spence was one of Arizona State's leaders.

"You talk about ambassadors out there, there's no better ambassador to this program than Josh Spence," Arizona State interim coach Tim Esmay said. "The thing about Josh is what you see is what you get. He's a great person and he honestly just loves what he's doing with this program."

Spence is typically one of the last players off the practice field. The coaches sometime have to tell him to go home. Spence frequently volunteers for foul ball duty during practice.

"There's no doubt his attitude rubs off on the team," Esmay said. "You look at a guy of his stature doing what he is doing at practice. He doesn't know any different and the other kids on the team figure if Spence can check his ego at the door, so can we."

Barring a major surprise, Spence will once again have a great campaign and be a relatively high draft pick.

But there are other options if that angle doesn't work out.

"Ultimately, I want to be a college coach here in America at some point," he said. "Being an international student, I really enjoy living in the states. I miss my family like hell sometimes, but this is what I want to do with my life right now. This is my purpose, and it's just another reason why getting that college degree is so important."

Though he's planning his future, Spence is focused on the next four months.

The Sun Devils are entering an important campaign. After reaching the CWS last season, the program suffered a blow when long-time coach Pat Murphy was forced to resign in November.

Spence and the Devils were shell-shocked for a few weeks, but the Devils are ready for the competition the season promises.

Once again, the spotlight is on Spence.

"When you have a guy as good as Josh to begin the weekend, you look good on paper," Esmay said. "I think it comes with the territory. Spence demands respect by the way he pitches."

When the season comes to a close, there will be one team hoisting a national title trophy at Rosenblatt Stadium. That team may or may not be Arizona State.

Even if it's not Arizona State, Spence likely won't regret his decision to return for his senior season.

Sometimes typical isn't better.

Josh Spence is a testament to that.