Don’t let the glasses fool you.
MacKenzie Moore may use them as corrective wear, but with the way the Desert Vista freshman shortstop plays the game the specs double as safety goggles as the dust gets flying.
“She brings a lot of energy to the team,” Thunder coach K’Lee Arredondo said. “Mac plays the game hard and she’s been a real surprise as a freshman. She’s a good leader and players feed off her already.”
Moore is a huge part of Desert Vista’s youth movement that can be harsh at times like the regular season-ending loss on Tuesday to Corona de Sol when the Aztecs scored three times in the bottom of the seventh for a 5-4 walk-off win.
“There’s been a lot of ups and downs, but we have improved,” Arredondo said. “It happens when you play so many young players. I didn’t have anything to say to them (after the Corona loss), but we will talk about bouncing back.”
That’s because the Thunder (11-13 overall, 8-10) is headed to the Division I postseason on Saturday for first-round action.
Desert Vista got the 17th seed meaning the Thunder open the playoffs on the road at 10 a.m. at Highland, while No. 12 Mountain Pointe (11-7) hosts No. 21 North Canyon
The Division I baseball tournament also begins Saturday with No. 10 Desert Vista hosting No. 23 Valley Vista in first-round home game with the Pride earning a bye after finishing at No. 6 before playing Tuesday.
The Desert Vista softball team might have the lowest seed, but it has the highest ceiling.
The talent is there. The experience at the high school level isn’t. The battle between the two is a constant.
So is the youth in the lineup as eight of the top leaders in at-bats are either freshmen (6) or sophomores (2). All have contributed one way or another, but Moore and sophomore pitcher/first baseman Brooke Hughes just might be the keys to the future.
The shortstop on most softball teams are usually the best athletes and carries the same weight in the dugout as a quarterback in a huddle and Moore, who was hitting .356 with 19 runs, two doubles, two triples, and eight RBIs through 22 games, is up to the task.
“My goal is to have no regrets when the last out is made,” she said. “When I am done I don’t want to have to think if there was anything I could have done better. If you play hard and do your best every at bat, every play, you shouldn’t have any regrets.”
Hughes is the thump in the lineup as she was hitting .412 with 21 runs, 10 doubles, two triples, three home runs and 17 RBIs, while also throwing a team-high 75 2/3 innings with a 4.53 ERA for a 3-6 record.
“Brooke has done a little bit of everything for us,” said Arredondo, who is also getting major contributions from senior Michaela Duarte and junior Madison Kelly. “She has a strong bat and when she makes contact the ball jumps off her bat.”
Other key contributors among the underclassmen are freshmen Kaylee Deitrich (.386, 20 runs, 9 doubles, 15 RBI) and Kiara Kennedy (.347, 20 runs, 8 doubles, 9 RBI), and sophomore Marissa Moreno (.356, 8 RBI).
The key will be getting as much exposure to the postseason action but have to two games before reaching the final eight and the double elimination portion of tournament over the next few weeks.
“It’s our first year together,” Arredondo said. “I didn’t really know any of the players when this all started, but it’s a good group of girls and they are willing to put in the work and so am I.”
Moore said the leader of the youth movement — Arredondo, 25, — is the actual key to the Thunder’s resurgence.
“Coming into school ball I was really excited to play for Coach K and I give everything I got for her,” she said. “In practice we give it our all, give for balls, and play with the intensity she is trying to teach us. She is one of the best coaches I’ve had and brings a different level of success and work ethic.
“It’s something we are trying to match.”
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