Prep Softball Previews
Last year: 9-6
Top returners: Kayla Cruz, jr., P; Analisa Rivera, soph., P; Dannie Agundez, soph., C/INF; JC Burks, sr., 1B;
Key newcomers: Alissa Cadall, fresh., P/SS
Coach Mike Jorjuria's comments: “The main deal is that we have the same pitching back. They have one more year under their belt and I think their pitching will improve. We're trying to get to where we finished last year at the beginning so we can build on that and just kind of get a young team some more confidence so if we make it to state they just play with more confidence.”
The lowdown: Continuing to develop their two starting pitchers in Kayla Cruz and Analisa Rivera will be a key to the Rams success this season. Last year Cruz and Rivera focused more on throwing than pitching. This year Jorjuria is concentrating on the development of his staff's offspeed repertoire along with working on pitch sequencing with his catchers.
Last year: 16-2
Top returners: Bethany Olea, sr., SS; Alexis Evans, sr., 1B; Grecia Villa, sr., 2B; Hannah Lackey, sr., C;
Key newcomers: Nadia Hernandez, fresh., P; Alicia Young, fresh., OF; Dennise Carrazco, fresh., INF; Chandler Arviso, fresh. INF;
Coach Shelly Baumann's comments: “We're excited with our four seniors. They bring a lot of experience to our team. We do have seven returning people so we have a great mixture of new and old. They've really been taking leadership roles and teaching them what to do on and off the field. We're really pleased with everyone so far, but we still have a long way to go.”
The lowdown: Cibola was the team to beat in the region last year, sporting a 16-2 regular season record. Their luck ran out as they were defeated in their first two games at the state tournament against No. 2 Red Mountain and No. 3 Xavier. Practice for the Raiders has been rejuvenated lately, with Alexis Evans and Hannah Lackey returning from Cibola's run at the state basketball playoffs.
San Pasqual Warriors
Last year: 2-14
Top returners: Marissa Miller, sr., P; Ceera Ingraham, soph., LF;
Key newcomers: Brenda Acosta, fresh., 3B; Sonya Palone, fresh., OF;
Coach Jose Encarnacion's comments: “I think we're going to be hitting better this year. I have a group of girls that actually really want to come out and play. They're not looking for a letter in their lettermans jacket, they're out here to play and make the school look good. They're proud of their school. I believe that's what's turning these kids around and making them want to come out and play.”
The lowdown: It was a rough go around last year for the Warriors, but according to coach Jose Encarnacion, there's a new-found enthusiasm buzzing around practice. According to Encarnacion, the team barely fielded nine players last year, but its returners hit the recruiting trail this offseason and now has 14 players. Encarnacion said the experience that some of the newcomers are bringing should translate to a better season.
Yuma High Criminals
Last year: 10-8
Top returners: Linda Ontiveros, sr., 3B; Allison Vega, soph., C; Brittney Ramos, jr., SS; Alicia Stephens, jr., 2B; Hannah Martinez, jr., 1B; Amanda Martinez, sr., OF
Key newcomers: Lezile Morris, soph., P/OF; Alexis Stephens, fresh., P/OF
Coach Elizabeth Huyck's comments: “We're calling it a mission, not a goal. Our mission is to make it to state and that's what we're working for every day. Pitching, we're younger in age, but both of them have had a lot of club ball and travel ball. Both of them have a lot of experience. We just need to play solid defense behind them and give them defensive support to take some pressure off them.”
The lowdown: The Criminals lost their No. 1 pitcher in Isabel Villalobos, who played all four years at Yuma High and threw in nearly every game. Filling the hole will be two fresh faces in sophomore Lezile Morris and freshman Alexis Stephens. Yuma High's 10-8 record wasn't good enough for state and snapped its streak of several years of making the playoffs.
Yuma Catholic Shamrocks
Last year: 10-8
Top returners: Josie Quiroz, jr., C/Util.; Gabbie Rowlinson, soph., P; Janell Orozco, jr., P/INF
Key newcomers: Amanda Milnick, fresh., 1B; Lauren Wyatt, soph., OF
Coach Alyssa Rhodes’ comments: “It’s going to be a program-changing year. I think my girls are in a good place. They’ve been through a lot but they’re receptive and are real quick learners. ”
The lowdown: The Shamrock returners have gone around the coaching carousel this past season. Rhodes, who was a star player for Kofa before winning a national championship with Yavapai College, is the third coach in two years for Yuma Catholic. Not only is Rhodes a new coach, but she was hired in late January so she hasn’t had much time to get to know the players. However, she raved about what she’s seen so far and said she’s preaching fundamentals this season. With a pretty athletic group, expect the Shamrocks to be aggressive on the basepaths to help get some runs.
-Capsules by Matt Carstens. Kofa coach Emma Morrison and San Luis coach James Jones could not be reached.