The softball season is heading into its third week and the area results have been mixed.
Mountain Pointe was expected to be building off last year’s winning season, the first one in at least five seasons, but lost its first six games.
The Pride’s slow start is surprising because of the talent that returned after going 15-13 last year.
“We are always trying to improve on last year, including our record,” second-year coach James Bradford said. “We want to continue to progress as a team defensively by committing fewer errors, most importantly though, is to stay healthy and consistent over the entire year.”
The battery of pitcher Kristen McCann and catcher Hannah Hoban are at the core of the Pride’s leadership and style of play.
The juniors have been top contributors as underclassmen and should only be stronger the next two years.
Other players expected to be counted on are sophomores Ana Howard and Keri Sheehan, junior Xiomara Brown-Scott and freshman Amy Luis.
“We are older now and have been playing together for some time,” Bradford said. “The questions is can we put it all together and improve on last year.”
Desert Vista is in the midst of transition with a new coach in K’Lee Arredondo and several new starters after a large and successful graduating class left behind plenty of openings for players to assert themselves.
The Thunder is off to a 4-5 start entering this week as a young offense learns to compete at the varsity level.
The Thunder has been 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, who won national titles at Arizona as a player, 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,” Arredondo said when she was hired. “We want to improve our skills, of course, winning helps, but I want to see them improve more than anything else.”
The offense is being led by senior Michaela Duarte, who has started the year hitting .609 through seven games, as she tries to show the seven young (five freshmen, two sophomores) players getting the majority of at-bats.
Sophomore Brooke Hughes and freshman Kendall Schwartz have combined for a 3.91 ERA through seven games.
Horizon Honors won only one of its first six games as the Eagles try to distance themselves from last year’s 3-20 campaign.
The Eagles offense will be headed by senior Rachel Irons, who hit .421 a year ago, and Bailey Volden, who hit .333 last season.
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