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Caro controls outfield for Cibola
Cibola's Mariah Caro wears many hats.
She's the Raiders' stud center fielder, a senior leader and the unofficial cheer captain of their dugout.
“She's our leadoff batter, so she kind of sets the tone for the game,” Cibola coach Shelly Baumann said. “Her batting average is four-something and after she leads off, she cheers in the dugout. It's that firecracker mentality that kind of gets them fired up. She leads the outfield out there and a lot of times fans can't see it but there's a lot of communication and a lot of talking out there. We have two sophomores on either side of her and she's taken them underneath her wing and she's done a great job.”
The Raiders are looking to their senior leader to help them extend their season and their run in the Division I state tournament as they face No. 3 Xavier at 1 p.m. today at Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix in an elimination game.
The love of the game drives Caro to continually step up her game. To her, nothing matches the feeling of making that big play.
“It feels amazing because your whole team is behind you and they're all excited with you. I'm just like ‘I got a hit, yes! That's what I was waiting for.' On defense I just love making the big catches. ... I love making the diving catches.”
The Raiders are no strangers to the state tournament and as a four-year starter, Caro has played in the tournament each year.
But this year carries more meaning for her and she is hoping to bring home the title in her final year with the Raiders.
“We just need her to be a leader,” Baumann said. “She's the first batter, she sees what the pitcher has and talks to the kids on the bench — keeps them fired up. She represents what the Cibola motto is — never say no and play to the last pitch.”
Cibola's defense struggled earlier in the season but it was through leadership like Caro's that the team was able to rebound and turn their season around.
As she's matured as a player, Caro has constantly tried to push herself to be more adventurous with her style of play. Along the way, she has managed to make plays that receive gasps and applause from the Raiders' fans.
“I just like showing myself that I can do things that I never thought I could do — like making diving catches in the outfield and then being able to throw someone out. It always makes me feel great, like ‘Oh yeah, I can do this!'”
Caro is hoping that she can continue to take her game to the next level when she takes the field next year for the Arizona Western College Matadors, reuniting with former teammates Myliah Ramirez and Alex Roman.
“I'm really excited, I just want to keep going further and further,” Caro said. “I'm in love with the sport.”
Erin Redmond can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6880. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YSErinRedmond.