When Noah Galvan stepped onto the Clovis West campus for the first time in 2018, head coach Kevin Patrick had no idea what he was getting.
“I didn’t meet him until he showed up to practice his junior year, and I didn’t know a whole lot about him,” Patrick remembers. “He came from Madera and we just didn’t play them that often.”
The Madera kid, however, took Clovis West by storm in his year and a half with the Golden Eagles. In 76.2 innings pitched, Galvan boasted a 7-3 record, 1.64 ERA, and 80 strikeouts, not to mention seven saves out of the bullpen.
If you didn’t know his name when he walked onto campus two years ago, surely you will remember it now as he graduates from Clovis West in June, while planning to play baseball next season at Fresno State. His legacy as a Golden Eagle is without question.
“He is somebody the younger guys in the program can look up to and say, ‘This is what I have to do to be successful,’” Patrick says.
Noah Galvan’s road to success at Clovis West started 23 miles north of Fresno, in a town affectionately nicknamed “The Heart of California.”
Galvan was born and raised in Madera, the second of seven children. His father played football at Madera High, and his mother played softball in high school as well. That is where the love of baseball originated for Galvan: two athletic parents who wanted to see their son compete.
“I started playing baseball when I was three years old tossing the ball around with my Mom, and then my Dad got involved and became my T-ball coach,” Galvan recollects.
He first picked up playing catcher while in Little League, but soon found interest in another position on the diamond.
“When I was catching, I liked seeing the curveballs and different pitches thrown, and that got me interested in pitching,” Galvan said.
He continued catching in Little League until age 13, picking up invaluable lessons along the way that would serve his pitching well.
“Catching helped me understand the strike zone and where hitters see pitches,” Galvan recounts. “I understood that if a ball drops at a certain part of the strike zone, the hitter can’t tell.”
Galvan attended Madera Unified schools through elementary and middle school. When he reached Madera High School, he was further along pitching-wise than most other freshmen. In fact, as a freshman, Galvan was already throwing bullpen practice with the Coyotes’ varsity pitching staff.
Despite earning compliments from the varsity pitching coach, Galvan stayed at the freshman and JV levels during his two seasons at Madera. He picked up a new primary position, third base, and pitched occasionally.
Halfway through his high school career, Galvan knew it was time for a change.
“Moving to Clovis West brought more exposure and a higher level of baseball than I saw in Madera,” Galvan explains. “Once you’re around better baseball players, you perform better.”
Clovis West became the new stomping grounds for Noah Galvan, who embraced the new environment and the opportunity to focus solely on improving his craft.
“I didn’t have many friends so all I did was work out, practice my pitching, and watch pitching videos,” he said. “I became a nerd, yet that’s when I started seeing my success.”
Kevin Patrick discovered something about his new player during the first couple practices: he was a hard worker, and he was adaptable.
“Noah came in as a third baseman and we already had Bradley [Senneway] at that position,” Patrick said. “Yet pitching was an area of need for us, so we kept working with him on the mound, and Noah put a lot of time into it.”
With Galvan devoting his time and energy to pitching, and Clovis West providing the opportunity, it was a match made in baseball heaven.
The six-foot-one right-hander became Clovis West’s closer early in the 2019 season, proving himself capable of “handling the game’s toughest situations,” according to Patrick.
“He was successful and dominant as our closer, so I told Noah one day that he would get to start our next game,” recalls Patrick. “I’ll never forget he said ‘Oh heck yeah, I’m ready to go!’”
To fuel his impressive junior season, Galvan developed a pitching repertoire that relied on precision and control to get batters out. There was his fastball that touched 82 to 84 MPH, to go along with a curveball he relied upon for a strike. He lived off location, attempting to get batters swinging at outside pitches.
It all came together for one May playoff game against San Luis Obispo, when Galvan went toe to toe with Arizona State commit Cooper Benson in a pitcher’s duel. For Patrick, this was “the moment I knew Noah was special.”
Galvan went six innings strong in the Central Section quarterfinal, allowing two runs (one earned) and keeping the Tigers’ bats quiet for most of the night. In the end, Benson went the distance and shut out the Golden Eagles 2-0, but Patrick did see one victory amidst the defeat.
“After such a great game from Noah, to know he was coming back for one more year, we were excited about the future,” Patrick remembers.
Over the summer between his junior and senior years, Galvan would use his final start of the season as motivation to get better. He spent time improving his velocity with CBA Marlins summer ball coach Jared Thompson.
“Coach JT really tapped me in with my legs and mechanics, and made it easier to produce velocity without using my arms, just by changing a few things mechanically,” Galvan said.
The results were remarkable. Galvan began touching 88 to 90 MPH with his fastball “within a month” of working with Thompson. All the hard work paid off when a particular Central Valley-proud baseball program came knocking on the door.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Fresno State and one day, I heard from [pitching coach Ryan] Overland who came out and saw me pitch in a summer game,” Galvan recounts. “I went on a visit and they offered me right there.”
Not only was it the program he dreamed of joining since he was young, but it was a school that kept him close to his roots.
“Seeing my parents’ faces when I told them I was going to stay home and be a Bulldog, that was special,” Galvan said.
Galvan was primed for a special senior campaign, and there were flashes of pitching dominance in his six appearances in 2020. Just take his start at Tulare Western on February 18, when Galvan spun a complete game, one-hit shutout against the Mustangs.
And that one hit?
“The one hit I gave up was the worst ever. It didn’t even get past the grass in the infield,” Galvan says with a pained chuckle. “But the dude got down the line pretty quick.”
Infield hits aside, Galvan found more success on the mound in 2020, until the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the remainder of the high school baseball season.
Galvan understands the reason behind the cancellation, but it took a few days for the “sudden shock” to go away.
“Once we found out that the season wasn’t going to happen this year, it definitely hurt and took a little bit to sink in,” he said. “It hasn’t been that bad since then… I’ve just been developing.”
Galvan looks forward to a bright future with Fresno State, but also remembers his time at Clovis West fondly and the lessons he learned along the way.
“I learned how to become a better teammate at Clovis West,” Galvan said. “They are a program that preaches ‘Team Above Self’ and I can’t thank them enough for bringing that side out of me. They turned me into a better all-around player.”
Of course, there is one man in particular who will never forget Noah Galvan’s time on the Stan Bledsoe Field mound.
“Even though I only coached him for a year and a half,” Kevin Patrick says, “Noah has made memories here that will last forever.”