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Plum graduate Navari making Division I comeback

Richie Navari feels like he`s been on a wild and, at times, jarring roller coaster ride since 2009.

Navari has ripped through some rapid twists and turns, going from Plum baseball standout to Duquesne recruit to Tommy John surgery patient to Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College player. But the journey was worth it to Navari because he`s now the owner of a scholarship to play Division I baseball at Louisiana Tech University.

'I went through some ups and downs and bumps in the road,' said Navari, who turns 21 on April 21. 'I have great parents, teammates and coaches, and I`ve tried staying positive. Everything happens for a reason. I`ve been working hard to get the best opportunity for myself.'

Navari, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-handed pitcher who`s playing for Scottsdale this season, inked a letter of intent to Louisiana Tech during the NCAA`s early signing period in the fall. He said he also received an offer from Central Arkansas and interest from several other D-I programs.

At Scottsdale, Navari has worked under the tutelage of pitching coach Marcus Clapp, a former Louisiana Tech player. Navari said he visited the campus, liked the school and coaches, and a nearly full scholarship was 'hard to pass up.'

'Richie is a big, powerful righty that is currently pitching for former Bulldog Marcus Clapp,' Louisiana Tech coach Wade Simoneaux said in a statement. 'Richie can come in as a junior and get a lot of innings for us.'

Navari was a junior at Plum in 2008, when the Mustangs finished as WPIAL Class AAAA runners-up. That team produced four Division I recruits — Anthony DeFabio (Pitt), Nic Manuppelli (Youngstown State), Scott McGough (Oregon) and Navari.

'If you look at all the obstacles he`s overcome, it`s inspiring,' Plum coach Carl Vollmer said. 'I knew Richie was a special player. The natural ability and size has always been there. He`s relentless. He goes after it.'

As a Plum senior in 2009, Navari hit .340 with three home runs and 14 RBI but didn`t pitch much because of an ailing elbow. He signed a letter of intent to Duquesne, but he said he fell short of admission requirements because of SAT results. He enrolled at Scottsdale to improve his academics and keep playing baseball but took a medical redshirt in 2010 because he underwent Tommy John surgery. He finally returned to the mound in 2011 but appeared in only five games.

Still, Division I schools were willing to give him a look because of his 93 mph fastball.

'I`m feeling great, arm-wise,' Navari said. 'I`ve never felt healthier.'

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