Tag Archives: softball

high schools

Prep teams battle for state positioning

by Jason Stone

Bats will ping and guns will sound as local baseball, softball and track teams get into playoff form this week.
As of Tuesday morning, a handful of local baseball and softball teams were still alive for their respective region championships, prior to next week’s state competition.
Cactus softball, looking for its third-straight 4A championship before conferences are split next year, will host the championship of the Wells Fargo Region Friday.
Deer Valley, meanwhile, ended as the top softball team in the 5A Northwest Region and earned the No. 1 seed at the postseason tournament. Mountain Ridge finished second.
In baseball, Mountain Ridge has the No. 1 seed for this week’s 5A Northwest Region championship series against Goldwater, the team that upset the Mountain Lions in regionals last year.
Ironwood, meanwhile, entered the 5A Desert West Region tournament as the No. 3 seed.
Track and field championships for the Northwest, Desert West, Desert Sky, Skyline and Wells Fargo regions will also be held this week as teams get one last chance at qualifying for next week’s state meets.

Published at glendalestar.com • May 4, 2005

high schools

Skyhawks softball is soaring

by Jason Stone

Carl Bakemeier doesn’t try to fool anybody that his Deer Valley softball team plays in a strong region.
But the Skyhawks coach believes any win is a confidence builder.
So, when Deer Valley outscored opponents 58-0 in four games two weeks ago, the quality of competition didn’t matter.
“The bats were hitting,” Bakemeier said. “At the beginning of the season, we weren’t getting the timely hits. Now, the hitting is coming around.”4c50a167bf227.image
That’s bad news for the rest of the 5A, which has to contend with the Skyhawks’ new found confidence.
The defending 5A state champions struggled a bit at the beginning of the season with only six returning players from the title team
As Bakemeier mixed in eight new players, Deer Valley’s hitting was inconsistent in the early part of the season, which led to some tough losses and questions about whether the Skyhawks’ title was a one-time event.
“I saw some things in the newspaper about (the losses),” second baseman Megan Conditt said. “I kept thinking, ‘It’s not that big of a deal.'”
Turned out that Conditt was right. A trip to the Colorado River did the trick.
Deer Valley went 4-2 at Mohave’s Tournament of the Champions, playing some of the best teams in the West. The Skyhawks also got a chance to do some needed team bonding, which Bakemeier said has carried over into the region season.
“I think we’re over our nervousness,” Bakemeier said. “This year has been a little bit like a rollercoaster.”
One player who has not been up and down is senior firstbaseman Laine Roth.
Roth would have set the state record with 11 home runs as a junior had Cactus’ Stacie Chambers not shattered that mark with 20.
The University of Arizona-bound Roth led a Deer Valley attack that broke the national record with 42 home runs as a team, a mark the returning players are still proud of.
Ask the players how many homers they hit last year and they’ll yell the answer before the question is even completed.
Roth has gone deep six times this year, and while the team has hit only half as many homers as last year, it’s still a big weapon for the Skyhawks.
“This year has been harder,” said Roth, who will likely play with Chambers in two years when the Cobra catcher also heads to Tucson in 2006. “Last year was so easy.”
Bakemeier has only four seniors to rely on and is carrying four sophomores and a freshman.
Two underclassmen — Karie Wilson and Kristen Cruickshank — are also playing big roles as they did in 2004.
Wilson has hit four home runs, and Cruickshank picked up where she left off since being on the mound for the state championship game against Sunrise Mountain last May.
Sunrise Mountain might end up being one of the Skyhawks’ roadblocks to the state championship.
Ironically, one of the key cogs to Deer Valley’s title last year, shortstop Courtney Shlee, transferred to the north Peoria school when she moved before the school year.
It was a big loss for the team, but bigger for Roth.
“She’s my best friend,” Roth said. “I’ve known her forever. It will be weird playing against her. But we will in college, too, because she’s going to (Pac-10 school) Oregon.”
The way the state championship brackets are set up, Sunrise Mountain and Deer Valley would meet prior to the championship game.
“We’ll have a chance to knock each other out maybe,” Roth said with a big smile.

Published at glendalestar.com • April 20, 2005

high schools

Apollo dominating region opponents so far

by Jason Stone

Most coaches preach team work, but few put their money where their mouth is.
The photo of the Apollo softball team above features every player — not because it looked good on the page, but because Hawks coach Susan Prado-Ortiz preaches teamwork and doesn’t like any individuals to be singled out.
“We truly are a team,” Prado-Ortiz said before a recent practice, where her undefeated Hawks were preparing to take on Greenway in an anticipated Desert Sky Region game Tuesday. (Result of the game were unavailable at press time.)
“I tell them there is no ‘I’ in ‘team.'”4c50a14e5eb00.image
Simple statistics back up what Prado-Ortiz is conveying.
The Hawks have no true superstars, but own a stacked lineup of solid players that helped the team win 19 of its first 22 games.
The team is batting around .380, its pitchers have ERAs in the neighborhood of 1.20 and five players with batting averages of .400 or better.
“Hitting is really contagious for us,” said pitcher Nina Ramirez, who has 12 wins on the mound and a batting average near .500.
Added senior Ayla Hopper: “Anybody (in the lineup) can start a rally.”
The Hawks feel they have teamwork and school pride to push it this year. Since the boys basketball team claimed the 4A state championship in February, players say it has changed the perception of the school.
“You can wear an Apollo shirt and people will stop you and say, ‘Oh, you go to the school of the state championship basketball team,'” senior Alria Metzler said. “Then, people ask us, ‘Are you going to take state like the basketball team?’ The support of the fans helps keep us going.”
Ramirez has played a key role in keeping the Hawks going, keeping an ERA down in the 0.70 range, while appearing in two-thirds of Apollo’s games.
Ramirez’s mother, Peggy, was a pitcher for Apollo in the 1980s before attending Glendale Community College, then Phoenix College.
Nina will follow in her mom’s footsteps and attend PC next fall.
“It would be nice to win a (college) championship after winning a (state high school) championship,” Ramirez said with a smile.
Winning at PC is typical as the Bears have won multiple national championships. But in softball, Apollo is still looking for its first state title.
Prado-Ortiz said her team is battle-tested.
“We played a lot of 5A teams and we lost to a couple of good 4A teams,” Prado-Ortiz said about the Hawks’ 4A losses to defending-champion Cactus and Millennium. “But, the girls are really starting to jell now.”

Published at glendalestar.com • April 13, 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