Softball: Returning players highlight northern area schools
March 5, 2020 by Oree Foster, AZPreps365
Returning players highlight northern area softball teams as the season is in full swing.
ST. MICHAEL LADY CARDINALS
Thirteen returning players highlight the St. Michael Lady Cardinals softball team.
St. Michael completed its 1A North Region with a perfect 6-0 record. The Lady Cardinals finished with a 15-2 regular season mark. St. Michael earned a state tournament berth. The Lady Cardinals eliminared Hayden, 5-2, in the first round. The Lady Cardinals dropped a 5-4 secision to Williams, 5-4, in the state tournament quarterfinals.
Earlier this week, St. Michael began its season, sweeping a doubleheader from Red Mesa, 19-0 and 26-2. St. Michael entertains the Ganado Lady Hornets on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Gallup, New Mexico Sports Complex.
Returning St. Michael players include, Natalia Goldtooth, Amaya Joe, Aurianna Quintana, Maya Ross, Sunshine Burnside, Jolynn Smith, Kalani Wilson, Gabriella Simpson, Kalynn Smith, Jenna Ross, Jessica Terry, Paige Gonnie and Santana Dalgai.
Simpson was selected 1A North all-region first team and was named region player of the year. Burnside was voted first team all-region and offensive player of the year. Quintana was selected to first team all-region and defensive player of the year. St. Michael players selected to first team all-region were Terry, Goldtooth and Kalynn Smith. Earning second team all-region were Maya Ross, Wilson, Joe and Kylea Monroe. Honorable mention selections included, Dalgai, Areya Hanley, Jenna Ross and Jolynn Smith.
St. Michael head coach Karen Tom, who has been at the school for seven years, said she has high expectations this year.
"I have a great group of players and energy is high as we begin this new season," Tom said. "We have high expectations and hope to do well enough to advance even further this year. We also will be playing in a new tournament, which we know will test us. The Gracie Lee Haught in Payson is happening March 12-14. Playing bigger schools will definitely give us a good gauge in areas we need improvement."
Tom said the Lady Cardinals' team strengths includes defense and offense.
"Only time will tell if we are are consistent enough," Tom said. "The girls look great and our first game proved to be a good win all around. We need to be consistent and we need to keep our eyes on finishing well."
Tom said work is in progress to become a better team.
""We need work on team chemistry and learning to move forward together," she said. "Last year we lost one player, but everyone develops differently and coming together always proves to be our biggest hurdle especially during the end of the season."
Holbrook head coach Scott Baker begins his third year as the Roadrunners softball coach.
Eight players return from last year's 7-21 squad that finished 0-10 in 3A North Region.
Holbrook opened its season with a 15-14 win over Chino Valley. Holbrook faces Coachella Valley, of Thermal, California, on Thursday at 5:20 p.m. in the Needles, California tournament.
Leading Holbrook's returning players are senior shortstop Madison Chappell, all-state honorable mention and first team all-region; sophomore pitcher/outfielder Tiffani Tyler, second team all-region; and senior centerfielder Holly Hill, honorable metion all-region.
Returning players include senior second base, catcher/outfielder Jelena Despair; senior outfielder/pitcher Olivia Richins; senior designated player/third base Gabrielle Tyler; junior catcher Jyllian Hall; and sophomore catcher/outfielder Talyssa Larson.
Baker said Holbrrok's team strength is defense and pitching has improved over a year's time.
"Offensively, we will need to progress quickly, if we expect to compete in our region." Baker said. "I would expect us to compete in our region and to show much improvement from last season. Nearly every girl on our roster has varsity experience. Hopefully, that experience will help us earn an opportunity to continue in the state tournament.
CHINLE LADY WILDCATS
Third year Chinle Lady Wildcats head coach Nadia Natay said this year's expectations is to be able to adapt.
"We need to learn to be comfortable with playing more than one position," Natay said. "I want everyone to be a versatile athlete. We are also expecting to be state contenders again this year. If we can get all our ducks in a row, I know we will be there without a doubt."
Chinle completed its season last year with a 9-9 overall record and 6-4 in 3A North Region. The Lady Wildcats earned a state tournament berth were ousted in the state tournament play-in game by Northwest Christian.
Chinle opened its softball season, losing to Winslow Lady Bulldogs, 16-3. The Lady Wildcats dropped its season game of the season, 13-2, to Show Low Lady Cougars.
Five players return for Chinle. Returning players include, senior pitcher/shortstop Danielle Ayze; junior outfielder/catcher Lainy Burke; sophomore third bse/outfielder Tristin Natay; senior centerfielder Lionesha Francis; and senior outfielder Cina Curley.
Ayze was selected honorable all-state and first team all-region last year. Francis was named to second team all-region. Burke and Tristin Natay were named to honorable mention all-region.
Natay believes the Lady Wildcats have become a strong hitting team.
"We are able to adjust to different pitchers, with different speeds," she said. "We aren't always looking to hit a homer. We're smart about base hits and just moving runners."
Natay said the Lady Wildcats biggest challenge is to get everyone to mesh and get comfortable in their position.
"I have a good mix of returnees and girls that are coming up from last year's JV team as well as ones who are coming out for the first time," Natay said. "We have talent in all the right places. It's all just a matter of blending everything and everyone together to become one."
WINDOW ROCK LADY SCOUTS
Eight experience players lead the Window Rock Lady Scouts this year.
Window Rock's returning players are sophomore catcher Chamique Bowman; junior catcher/shortstop Leighianne Dale; junior pitcher/first base Alyisha Hale; junior second base/catcher Alonna Lee, sophomore outfielder/shortstop Vivika Lewis; sophomore outfielder Mikaela Roanhorse; senior pitcher/third base Rachael Smiley; and sophomore pitcher/shortstop Alexis Tsosie-Hood.
Smiley was selected first team all-region last year. Tsosie-Hood was named to second team all-region. Earning honorable metion all-region were Hale, Dale and Bowman.
Window Rock earned a state tournament berth last year and was eliminated in the first round.
Window Rock second year head coach Cynthia Smiley said the team's strength will grow as the season goes along.
"We have a core group of girls returning," Smiley said. "Our practice sessions have been great and we will continue to build our strengths and weaknesses where needed. Our team will strive to go to the final rounds in the state tournament. We will continue to work hard to meet our goals this softball season."
Window Rock opens its season at Snowflake on Friday at 3 p.m. in a freedom softball game. The Lady Scouts entertain the Alchesay Falcons in a doubleheader at 10 a.m and 2 p.m. on March 10.
WINSLOW LADY BULLDOGS
First-year Winslow softball head coach Megan Lymer said the Lady Bulldogs biggest strength is playing defense.
"We have a couple decent pitchers and a strong group of players that are able to successfully back up the pitchers," Lymer said. "We have always been known to hit the ball well, as well. So we are woking on finding that good lineup balance with this group to continue on with that legacy."
Eight returning starters lead Winslow this year. Returning players include, junior third base/shortstop/pitcher Desbah White; senior second base Shea Hanson; senior catcher/third base Brooke Williams; senior first base Chloe Wilcox; senior utility Maricella Gonzales; senior pitcher/outfielder Taylor Butterfield; sophomore pitcher/utilit MyKenzie Flores; and sophomore outfielder Andrea Guzman.
Wilcox was selected first team all-region. White was named to second team all-region. Flores was named honorable mention all-region. Butterfield and Guzman earned first team Arizona all-academic.
Winslow finished its season 17-8 overall last year. The Lady Bulldogs were 8-2 in 3A East Region. Winslow defeated Chinle Lady Wildcats, 16-3, to begin its season last week. The Lady Bulldogs are participating in the Mohave High School Invitational Tournament today through Saturday. The Lady Bulldogs host the Page Lady Sand Devils on March 10 at 4 p.m.
Winslow earned a state tournament berth last year. The Lady Bulldogs defeated Kingman, 18-2, in the first round. Sahuarita eliminated Winslow, 4-0, in the state tournament quarterfinals.
Lymer said communicating among the players is a key and could use improvement.
"The girls are still trying to find their rhythm with all of the few new freshmen additions that we have," Lymer said. "So just getting more comfortable and learning everyone's strengths will be something that we will all continue to work on, including myself," Lymer said.
Lymer, who played softball at Winslow, said the Lady Bulldogs' team expectations is no different from previous years.
"I graduated in 2014, after playing at Winslow ball my whole life and the energy and determination has not changed since them," Lymer said. "We are going to push boundaries and work on reaching our full potential while also trying to make it possible for these girls to have an opportunity to go on to play ball at a collegiate level. I expect it to be a hard-working and productive season."