Jack Barron
ASU Student Journalist

Basha prepares for first game of the season hot off state title run

February 13, 2024 by Jack Barron, Arizona State University

Basha won its first state title since 2009 last season with a 4-1 victory over Perry. (Jack Barron/AZPreps365)

Jack Barron is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Basha High School for AZPreps365.com.

They can hit. They can pitch. They have a target on their back. 

Basha softball is preparing for the first game of the season after winning the 6A softball state championship last year. The Bears are ready to claw their way back to a state title thanks to a skilled senior class and their revered coach.

Last season, Basha went 26-4-1 en route to its first state softball championship since 2009. Most title teams see massive turnover, but the Bears will retain all but two players from its championship roster. 

“They seem to be tight-knit,” head coach Kailey Pomeroy said. “They were tight-knit last year, but it's just a little bit different this year. We have some significant pieces that fit, and so it's just really exciting to see Basha come together.”

Basha’s chance at a title repeat begins with the season opener against Pinnacle on Feb. 21. The Pioneers went 14-15 last season and fell to Perry in the first round of the 6A tournament. The season opener is part of the Lion Country Classic at Red Mountain where Basha will also play Campo Verde and North High School from Torrance, Calif.

Pinnacle comes into the game with a senior class of five which includes Faith Kroening, a Utah State commit. Kroening may pose a threat to the Bears after batting .467 with 12 doubles last season. Junior center fielder Payton Crank led the Pioneers with 37 RBIs last season and will also have a prominent spot in the lineup against Basha.

Pinnacle’s weakness is its pitching. Last season, the Pioneers combined for a 5.55 ERA and 173 runs allowed across 181.2 innings. Basha’s lineup will prove tough for Pinnacle as the team tallied a .386 batting average and 45 home runs last season.

Headlining Basha’s talented lineup of returnees is senior infielder Gabriella Garcia. Last season, she led the team in batting average, runs, hits and home runs. Garcia was also the only Bear to hit over .500 by recording a .550 batting average with 55 hits. 

Now, Garcia is looking to make the most of her senior season after committing to play at Oklahoma. The senior slugger improved her baserunning and defense over the offseason and is looking to lead the team back to glory through grit.

“We're hardworking, we're resilient,” Garcia said. “We have each other's back to the end. I mean we're grinders, this team is a grinder.”

Basha’s resilience will be put to the test with the departure of seniors Alina Quinney and Ashley Cain. Quinney was fourth on the team with five home runs while Cain led the Bears with 33 RBIs. Luckily, Basha still retained three of the team’s top five run producers and all four of its pitchers.

One of those pitchers is senior Natalie Fritz, a New Mexico commit. Fritz shined last season by appearing in 22 of Basha’s 31 games and recording a 1.55 ERA. She’s joined in the bullpen by senior pitcher Addyson Borg, who posted a respectable 3.96 ERA in eight appearances. 

No matter who is on the roster, the Bears like their chances with Pomeroy at the helm. Pomeroy has a long softball resume that spans back to her days playing at Basha and GCU. Her players respect her career achievements and count on her as a tough but loving leader.

“She definitely cares a lot and she does have a lot of knowledge coming from a strong softball background,” Fritz said. “So I feel like that legacy and just how she pushes us and how much he cares drives her as a coach.”

Pomeroy is focusing on the season ahead but is also planning for the future. The Bears have five returning seniors on the roster as well as transfer Amiya Hernandez from Perry. Pomeroy hopes that the upcoming season will give her a chance to see some of her younger players in action before they’re expected to lead the team.

“I'm going to lose a really big class this year and a lot of them are starters,” Pomeroy said. “So I think that we're really focusing on you know, trying to grow those young kids. We have some young kids that are gonna get thrown into the fire.”

Basha will rely on its strong senior class for crucial hits and innings en route to a potential title defense. However, it won’t come easy as the Bears expect every team they face to bring their best to knock off the defending champions.

Basha still has a full week before the season starts to iron out the kinks. The Bears have the talent to make it back to the state championship game but Pomeroy isn’t worried about postseason play.

“Everybody wants to make it to the state championship game, but our goal this year is to have another successful season,” Pomeroy said. “That's not defined by the state championship or not. We've just kind of been going in and working like we have everything to lose, but like we haven't won one.”