Softball has taken K’Lee Arredondo to places like The Netherlands and Venezuela, but something always brings her back home.

She feels like it will continue with news of her being recommended, per board approval, to be the next Desert Vista softball coach after Chris Crowl stepped down to spend more time with family.

“Tempe is where I was raised and I love it here,” she said. “Desert Vista is part of the Tempe School District and I wanted to stay close to home. It should be a great fit.”

Arredondo, 25, played at Tempe and McClintock, spent the last season as a varsity assistant at Corona del Sol and is a Tempe police officer.

So Tempe runs thick in her blood, but Arredondo is prepared to immerse herself into the Thunder program.

Arredondo certainly has the pedigree after heading to the University of Arizona after graduating from McClintock in 2006.

She helped the Wildcats to a national title in 2007 and twice represented the country while playing for Team USA.

As a Junior team member she helped the national team win gold at ISF Junior Women’s World Championships in The Netherlands in 2005 and as a member of Team USA she won a gold medal at the Pan-Am Games in Venezuela in 2009.

She played left field as a freshman, and shortstop the rest of her career. She was named the Pac-10’s top student-athlete for softball in 2010 and earned two other All-Pac 10 academic first-team honors. She was a self-taught switch hitter, ranks fourth in Arizona history with 19 doubles in a season, twice earned All-Pac-10 second team honors and was named the 2010 College World Series team. 

“I hope (the players) can look at what I accomplished and realize there are opportunities to go far in this sport,” she said. “It isn’t easy, but the opportunity is there.”

Arredondo takes over the program after Crowl developed the program to a respectable level after fighting through some very low years.

“The first couple of seasons were tough, but the last two seasons were pretty amazing,” Crowl said. “I decided it was time to step down and spend more time with family.”

The program loses a very good senior class that drove the Thunder to the postseason the last two years and went a combined 40-25 after Desert Vista won just 30 percent (36-82-2) of its games in the previous four seasons.

Arredondo believes the team can keep the momentum going as long as the players are willing to work.

“I am here to help the girls succeed and as long as they put everything into it they will,” she said. “We want to improve our skills, of course, winning helps, but I want to see them improve more than anything else.”

Incoming senior Michaela Duarte (.380), sophomore Brooke Hughes, junior catcher Madison Kelly, and senior Kylee Wiegl should be the core of players in line to keep the success going in 2014.

Arredondo had a chance to develop her game under some of the best coaches in the nation, especially her time with Arizona coach Mike Candrea, and she hopes to make a similar impression on those who come through the Thunder program.

“(Candrea) influenced every aspect of my life, not just softball,” she said. “There is so much to learn at a young age and sports help you experience so much. Coaches are there to help guide (the athletes) through everything that comes their way.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or jskoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.

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