Monthly Archives: March 2005

high schools

Prep region races begin this week

by Jason Stone

Spring break is over and now the real action gets going.
All local baseball and softball teams will be in the midst of region play this week as the 5A Desert West Region starts play, joining the 5A Northwest, 4A Desert Sky, 4A Skyline and 4A Wells Fargo, which have already started their region seasons.
Mountain Ridge baseball is hoping to claim the top spot in the Northwest Region after starting the season with 15 wins in its first 16 games.
Ironwood’s baseball team will have its hands full with Sunrise Mountain and Tolleson, teams that have gotten off to great starts.
In softball, Apollo has started off strong and will be a team to beat in the Desert Sky Region, while two-time defending champion Cactus is again the team to beat in the Wells Fargo Region.
The second Deer Valley/Sandra Day O’Connor Softball Festival is also scheduled for this weekend and features local teams Deer Valley, Ironwood, Cactus and Mountain Ridge.

Published at glendalestar.com • March 31, 2005

colleges

Sizzling bats have GCC softball winning games

by Jason Stone

Kiko Tamoshiro came to Glendale from Japan looking for an education, not softball glory.
But it turns out she got both — and Glendale Community College’s softball program is fortunate for it.
When coaches posted a notice around campus for open tryouts last fall, Tamoshiro, a former shortstop and catcher in Okinawa, decided to give it a try, despite knowing little English.
4c50a151060a4.imageNot only did Tamoshiro make the team, she turned out to be the team’s best hitter.
“She is the best walk-on we’ve ever had at GCC,” first-year coach Rebecca Schweitzer said.
Schweitzer is not kidding. Tamoshiro is batting .490 entering the week, eighth best in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference.
Her effect has seemed to spark everybody at the top of GCC’s lineup these days.
Freshman catcher Felicia Cruz is right behind Tamoshiro on the ACCAC hitting charts with a .456 batting average, while sophomore Ashley Beetso is hitting a cool .450.
The Gauchos are hitting over .300 as a team, surprising everybody, including their coach.
“I think this is the first time the team average has ever been over .300,” said Schweitzer, a former Gauchos player who, at 24, is one year older than Tamoshiro. “It was frustrating at the beginning of the year, but the last couple of weeks it has been so much better.”
GCC is currently at .500 in the ACCAC, which is not bad considering the league features Pima College and Phoenix College, the defending NJCAA Division 1 and 2 national champions, respectively.
The Gauchos have picked up one win each against both teams already, including last week’s dramatic 9-8 win at Pima when GCC scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“We’ve just had a lot of hard work (to improve),” said Cruz, a former player at Central High in Phoenix. “We’ve been in the (batting) cage a lot and doing a lot of work on the tee.”
The work is obvious on the scoreboard.
The Gauchos have won 14 of their last 17 games to move seven games out of first place among Division 2 teams in the ACCAC.
The recent hot streak has also put GCC only a game behind Mesa for second place.
Beetso, who doesn’t possess the speed of a normal leadoff hitter, had 49 hits entering the season, and has been scoring in bunches thanks to Tamoshiro in the two-spot, and Cruz in the cleanup spot.
Tamoshiro has been using her speed to pick up seven triples among her team-high 50 hits.
“She’s got wheels, let me tell you,” Cruz said.
Tamoshiro said she has no secret to hitting triples.
“I just run,” she said.
And she’s had plenty of opportunities to run with all the hits she’s racked up.
“I wish I had 13 players like her,” said Schweitzer, who played at GCC in the late 1990s before leaving for a school in Georgia. “She’s just great to have on the team.”
Cruz said the Japanese import has sparked the team.
“I think it’s awesome,” Cruz said. “It’s new for me because I’ve never played with anybody overseas, but everybody is coming along.”
Coaches have to often talk slowly to Tamoshiro to make sure the player understands their instructions.
“But once you tell her something, you don’t have to tell her again,” Schweitzer said. “She never makes the same mistake twice.”
Mistakes are something GCC hasn’t been making much lately.

Published at glendalestar.com • March 31, 2005

lacrosse

Sting nearing playoff spot

by Jason Stone

Get ready for the playoffs, Glendale.
While it’s not official, and a postseason home game isn’t even a promise, the Arizona Sting appear headed to the NLL playoffs for the first time in its two seasons at Glendale Arena.
Arizona ensured its playoff position last Friday with an 18-16 win over first-place Calgary in front of nearly 7,000 fans.
Arizona (7-5) moved four games ahead of Anaheim in the loss column with four games to go. However, two of those games remain with Anaheim.
But one more Sting win or Anaheim loss in any game and Arizona is in the postseason.
Arizona is tied with Colorado for second, a game behind Calgary, which had already wrapped up a playoff spot prior to playing the Sting.
Calgary won the NLL championship last season. Colorado has already wrapped up a spot, despite having the same record as Arizona.
The Sting play Calgary again this week, then face Colorado before the back-to-back games against Anaheim.
Last Friday against Calgary, forward Dan Dawson was a big reason the Sting were able to knock off the defending champs.
Dawson scored three goals and racked up five assists, while Pat Maddalena contributed four goals and an assist.
For the third time at home this season, Ken Montour relieved starting goalie Mike Miron and helped spark the win.
Montour made nine saves and kept the Roughnecks scoreless when the game was tied at 16.

TRADE: Sting bolster roster for postseason run

With the playoffs upcoming, the Sting made a pair of trades last week and two other roster moves to gear toward the postseason.
The team added scoring by trading its 2006 first-round draft pick to Minnesota for forward Craig Conn, the Swarm’s third-leading scorer.
Arizona also gave Colorado the third-round draft pick in 2006 for journeyman forward Chris Panos, a veteran of nine NLL teams in his career.
To make room for the new players, Arizona was forced to release forwards Gewas Schindler and Tony Henderson.

PLAYOFFS: Mammoth also beef up

The Sting weren’t the only team to improve last week. Colorado, one of three teams Arizona is fighting for playoff positioning in the West Division, added legend Paul Gait to its roster joining his brother, Gary.
Paul Gait came out of retirement to join Gary, who earlier had announced his retirement at season’s end.
Before Arizona and Colorado meet at Glendale Arena April 9, Colorado will play Minnesota and Anaheim this week.
Calgary, meanwhile, faces a road game at Toronto two days before the Roughnecks host Arizona.
The regular season ends April 17 when Calgary hosts Toronto.

Published at glendalestar.com • March 31, 2005

high schools

Apollo track star fights off distractions to excel

by Jason Stone

Brittany Wray is behind in her training schedule.
But what else is new?
Nothing in Wray’s life seems to go as planned, yet the Apollo High School senior seems to find a way to persevere through any situation.
At only 18, Wray has already faced a lifetime of adversity through illnesses and injury, family difficulties and a heavy workload outside of the classroom.
Despite it all, the Hawks’ state champion hopeful could end her career as the most decorated track athlete to ever wear the Apollo uniform.
“I’ve been kind of feeling (older) for years,” Wray said. “I’ve always 4c50a14926d3a.imagemade my own money and bought the things I needed.”
Wray is hoping hard work will buy her a track championship this year.
Having never ran track before high school, Wray joined the team “to have something to do,” and ended up opening eyes across the state by finishing fourth in Arizona in the 300-meter hurdles her freshman year.
Season-long nagging injuries and a lengthy illness her sophomore year slowed her down, but she still managed a sixth-place showing at state.
Last year as a junior, Wray won every race she ran until the state finals, when she narrowly took second.
But she played soccer this year for the first time and ended up getting ankle and shin injuries, which have slowed her down in the early part of training.
It wasn’t until last Friday that she finally got up to speed at practice, and she knows she has some catching up to do if she wants to win state in her final try.
But rallying from behind is nothing new to Wray.
She and her father did not have a permanent home until this year, and her mother is busy caring for Wray’s 9-year-old sister, who suffers from Down syndrome.
Plus, her mother’s boyfriend was diagnosed with lung cancer and the two staged a hospital wedding two weeks ago, a week before his death.
In addition to her classwork, Wray works 15 hours a week at Boston Market to support herself and helps run Apollo’s “Best Buddies” program, which pairs students with disabled children.
Wray has spent most of her life motivating herself, even in track where her female teammates can’t keep up with her in the hurdles.
“I have to run with the boys,” Wray said with a smile. “It’s made me stronger, I think.”
Ironically, Wray said she doesn’t have a passion for track or any sport. Yet, she participated in track, basketball, soccer and swimming while at Apollo.
“I think it’s because I just hate losing,” Wray said. “I’m just competitive.”
Wray said she plans to continue competing in college, most likely at a local community college first. She ultimately wants to study interior design or elementary education.
“I watch all those home shows on TV,” said Wray, who is in the Advanced Placement Art class. “I love ‘Trading Spaces.'”
Her coaches are hoping Wray, who also runs a leg on the Hawks’ 4×400 relay team, trades places into first this year at state.
“She has overcome a lot,” Apollo coach Dave Devlin said. “She already has four medals at state and if she can get two more, then it will be hard to pass her up.”

Published at glendalestar.com • March 28, 2005

lacrosse

Sting sitting in good position

by Jason Stone

It appears the Arizona Sting will be going to the playoffs despite a big loss at Toronto last week.
The Sting were routed 18-10 in front of more than 18,000 fans in Toronto, but because of San Jose’s two weekend losses to Calgary, Arizona is sitting pretty with five games left in the season.
At 6-5, the Sting are three games ahead of San Jose and Anaheim for the third and final playoff spot in the West Division. Arizona owns the season tiebreaker over the Stealth because of winning the season series 2-1 and has already beaten Anaheim once with two games remaining against the Storm to end the season.
Anaheim and San Jose play each other in a pair of games this weekend. If either team loses both, it will be eliminated from the playoff race.
Six teams total — three from each five-team division — make the postseason. Calgary is the only NLL team to have already qualified for a playoff spot.
The Sting will try to solidify their playoff chances Friday night against Calgary at Glendale Arena.
The Roughriders eked out a 15-14 win over Arizona at the Saddledome Jan. 22 and this week’s game could be a playoff preview.
Calgary, the defending NLL champion, owns the league’s top record entering the weekend, thanks largely to the play of a trio of players who have already amassed at least 50 points — Tracey Kelusky (53), Lewis Ratcliff (53) and Kaleb Toth (50).
Arizona will try to counter with its All-Star offensive force Dan Dawson, who has 58 points on the season and leads the team in goals and assists.
Jonas Derks, who was acquired from Buffalo last month, has come up big for the Sting since the trade.
Derks scored the game-winner against Minnesota in overtime Feb. 18 and has 25 points in six games with Arizona.

Published at glendalestar.com • March 28, 2005