The Arizona Interscholastic Association recognized several Desert Vista athletes who stood out on the field and in the classroom this spring.

The honors came as no surprise as the Thunder baseball and tennis teams were among the area’s best, while the boys volleyball squad claimed a state title.

Tempe Union also bestowed some honors at graduation last Thursday, naming Davis Evans and Jillian Lombardi athletes of the year and Aksel Laudon and Shae Nicolaisen scholar athletes of the year.

Junior Brandon Childers was a workhorse on the mound for a good Thunder baseball team that finished the year with a 20-10 record. The AIA placed Childers on the All-Region First Team.

The pitcher compiled a 6-1 record with an impressive 2.26 ERA. His 14 ppearances on the mound were tied for the team-high.

Desert Vista took care of business in its play-in game, beating Trevor G. Browne by a 10-0 score. A valiant effort against Sandra Day O’Connor, the eventual state champion, fell just short in the first round of the state tournament.

The Thunder softball team saw a senior, junior and sophomore recognized for their work on the field this season.

Rion Simms, Jackie Traughber and Jenna Sumpter were named to the All-Region First Team.

Simms had an impressive four-year run with the Thunder. Her batting average totals of .341, .444, .415 and .421 show just how consistent she was at the plate.

“She is a consummate worker,” said Chris Crowl, Vista’s softball coach. “She loves the game of softball and has worked tirelessly over the four years of club and high school ball.”

Simms will continue her career at the University of San Diego this coming fall.

Junior Jackie Traughber excelled in every facet of the sport. She hit .457 at the plate while serving as the team’s top pitcher at the same time. Her low 2.88 ERA in 26 appearances was enough to secure a spot alongside Simms on the first team.

“We had one of the toughest schedules in the conference, and a really young team,” Crowl said. “Jackie was playing with a really inexperienced group and she managed to go out there and give us an opportunity to win.”

According to Crowl, Traughber dealt with nagging injuries throughout the year, which made her contributions to the team even more impressive.

Jenna Sumpter’s performance on the diamond was the biggest revelation for Thunder softball. The first-year starter recorded a .526 batting average and a .608 on-base percentage.

“Biggest surprise we had all year long,” Crowl said of Sumpter. “We knew she had some talent, but didn’t realize how much of an impact she could make. She played like a senior. She’s a really talented young lady.”

The sophomore joined her older teammates with the prestigious recognition from the AIA.

The head coach sees big things in Sumpter’s future.

“No doubt in my mind. I think she is committed to getting better and better,” said Crowl. “She’s got her sights on playing at the next level. I see her continuing to rise.”

The softball team was eventually defeated by Gilbert in the state play-in game, ending their season in late April.

The Desert Vista boys tennis team continued to be one of the state’s best groups this spring. For their season-long efforts, Michael Liu and Andrew Hoffman were named Div-I Section VI Doubles Players of the Year.

DV’s Luke Urlaub was named Singles Player of the Year alongside Gilbert’s Owen Reynolds and Brophy’s Greg Abbott.

Contact Brian Benesch at 480-898-5630 or bbenesch@timespublications.com. Follow him on Twitter @AZBenesch.

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