State Softball Preview: Elks from Round Valley look to defend 2A state title

April 29, 2023 by Brian M. Bergner Jr., AZPreps365

The Round Valley Elks hoist a 2A state championship trophy last softball season after defeating Kingman Academy, 12-2, at Farington Softball Stadium on the campus of Arizona State University on May 13, 2022. (Mark Jones, MaxPreps/Courtesy)

The 2A state softball championships get underway Saturday, April 29, with high seeds hosting first-round matchups. The state quarter and semifinals are set for Papago Sports Complex on May 5 and 9, while the state title game is set for Arizona State University on May 13.

Here’s a look at this year’s 2A state softball playoff Top 8 seeds, plus Morenci, who just missed the cut:

NO. 1 Mohave Accelerated (25-2, 12-0 2A West): All eyes are on Tanner Banks offensively for this crew. Banks his .624 this season with 53 hits, 12 home runs, 13 doubles, five triples, 64 RBIs and 70 runs scored. Teammate Kennedy Lamb isn’t far behind. The freshman hit .646 with seven homers and 51 RBIs and led the team in doubles with 15. Lamb takes her talents within the circle as well, sporting a 1.42 ERA in 84 innings pitched this season. She struck out 135 opponents compared to just 15 walks and has allowed only six earned runs. “The Patriots softball team consists of athletes that are knowledgeable about the game of softball, which helped us focus on putting players into certain positions and jump right into game play," Mohave Accelerated head coach Shanda Weiler said.

NO. 2 Willcox (24-5-1, 9-1 2A East): Although seven seniors lead this club, one stands out above the rest. Jessie Gonzalez. In the circle, Gonzalez posted a 2.28 ERA this season in 135-1/3 innings pitched and whopping 210 strikeouts, which is currently tops in 2A. Gonzalez doesn’t keep her talents enclosed in a white circle, however. Her .527 batting average was tops on the club this spring, including 49 hits and 50 RBI to go along with her five home runs. “The seniors have dedicated their last season in memory of long time assistant coach Jack Kortsen, who passed away two and a half years ago. His wife, Jan, has carried on the tradition and is the hitting coach for ‘Cowgirl softball,’” Wilcox head coach Trevor Ward said.

NO. 3 Northland Prep. (15-1, 10-0 2A Central): Reannan Butler led the Spartans with a .725 batting average and 29 hits to go along with her 29 RBIs. Reannan and Kianna Butler offer a one-two punch in the circle for this club. Kianna allowed only two earned runs all season (0.37 ERA) and led the team with 38 innings pitched to go along with her 80 strikeouts. Reannan threw four shutouts while striking out 72. “These ladies have a talent of picking each other up when someone is down or having a bad day,” Northland Prep. head coach Betty Dean said. “Having each other’s back and celebrating the individual successes of each player is their super power.” As a No. 8 seed last spring, Northland Prep. made it to the state quarterfinals before losing to No. 1 Benson, 10-5.

NO. 4 Benson (22-9-1, 9-1 2A East): Tatum Benson is one to watch offensively on this club, leading the Bobcats with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs on her .494 average at the dish. In the circle, Celina Wilharm struck out 131 batters in 129 innings pitched this season, sporting a 2.88 ERA with 14 wins under her belt. “Our team has done a great job overcoming adversity early in the season and grown into a solid unit,” Benson head coach Bert Cardenas said. “I’m very proud of this team.” The Bobcats appeared in the state semifinals a season ago as the No. 1 seed, but fell to No. 5 Kingman Academy, 3-0.

NO. 5 Santa Cruz Valley (19-7, 8-0 2A South): Izzy Davis led the Dust Devils with 33 RBIs this season. She also shared the lead in home runs at 3 with teammate Layla Brown. Tatiyana Reyes hit .500 this year with 13 doubles, two triples and 25 RBI. Rhaylyn Tarango led Santa Cruz Valley with a 1.71 ERA and 74 strikeouts. Freshman Layla Brown is expected to get some time in the circle during the playoffs. “We have a great group of girls who can hit the ball and with power,” Santa Cruz Valley head coach Andrea James said. “We have great team chemistry.”

NO. 6 Round Valley (19-5, 7-0 2A North): The defending state champion Elks are led by pitcher Allyson Muth this spring, who posted a 1.72 ERA in 109-2/3 innings pitched with 155 strikeouts. Offensively, Liliana Arreola leads the team in home runs (11), batting average (.574) and was second in hits (31) and doubles (9). “This team will be in the hunt for another state title,” Round Valley head coach Darin Emerald said.

NO. 7 Heritage Academy (18-4, 10-2 2A West): The Heroes come into the 2A state playoffs riding a six-game winning streak. Rowan Asanovich hit .689 this season, Top 10 in the state currently, and led the team in hits (42), RBIs (48) and home runs (10) as a freshman. Jasmine Perez, a senior, had 35 RBIs this year with 35 runs scored and 36 hits. “Both of them lead by example. … They come to work and do their jobs and the other girls see it and follow,” Heroes head coach Steve LaDrigue said.

NO. 8 Horizon Honors (19-4, 6-2 2A South): Lucy Holweger may be the very best player in the state of Arizona this season. If not, her numbers sure make it feel like she is. The senior hit 13 home runs and recorded 76 RBIs this spring. She scored 49 runs and had 16 doubles to go along with a jaw-dropping .671 average. In the circle, she’s just as competitive. Sporting a miniscule 1.16 ERA in 60-1/3 innings pitched, Holweger struck out 112 this year compared to just 15 walks while allowing only 10 earned runs all season.

NO. 9 Morenci (16-10, 6-4 2A East): Mia Ontiveros hit an even .500 this season and was first on the team in hits (38), home runs (5) and doubles (16). The centerfielder and clean-up hitter was second in runs scored (42) and RBIs (43). “Mia is a leader on the team,” Morenci head coach Joseph Garcia said. Cameryn Woodall led the Wildcats in innings pitched with 91-2/3. The super sophomore struck out 117 batters and won 13 games. “We have a team this year that loves to work,” Garcia said. “They get after it in the weight room and on the practice field.”

For results on the 2A state softball playoffs, click here.

Brian M. Bergner Jr. has covered professional, collegiate and high school sports for more than 20 years. Follow him on Twitter @AzPreps365Brian. Have a story idea? Email Brian at