West Valley Preps’ 2017 softball preview

Compiled by Richard Smith
West Valley Preps

Last week marked the beginning of the high school baseball regular season. Surprise Today asked Northwest Valley coaches to take a look at their teams:

Cactus Cobras
4A West Valley Region
2016 Record: 28-9 (Division II runner up)
Coach: Bartt Underwood (25th year, sixth year as Cactus head coach)
Top Returnees: Alynah Torres, Soph., SS, (.590, 14 HR, 63 RBI); Ursula Del Campo, Sr., 1B, (.480, 5 HR, 42 RBI)

Cactus right fielder Jade Osterhoudt fields a ball against Ironwood Ridge during the third inning of their Division II State Softball semifinal game at Rose Mofford in Phoenix on May 12, 2016. Osterhoudt is back for her senior season. (Ralph Freso for West Valley Preps)

What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Versatility on defense and/or offensive potential. We have speed with short game and have ability to hit the long ball.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? Pitchers able to locate their pitches and pitch smart when their ahead in the count and/or newcomers realizing their potential and abilities will take over when they are aggressive.
Who are your team leaders? Alynah Torres, Ursula Del Campo, Emilie Guerra, Jade Osterhoudt, Nicole Osteen.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? Kaytlin Leyvas, Aubrey Chavez, Carson Gambs, Kai Nowell and Cassie Elliott.
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? To play together by being the best teammates we can be and/or executing when asked to.

 

Centennial Coyotes
5A Northwest Region
Coach: Randall Kaye (first year as head coach).
2016 Record: 13-12 (Division I second round)
Top Returnees: Sydnie Sahhar, Soph., P/IF (11-9, 2.89 ERA,.308, 13 RBI); Natalie Del Ponte, Jr., 3B/SS (.407, 20 RBI)
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? I think our best attribute is a talented roster who seems to embrace a new direction for the program, especially at the skill positions.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We need to continue to get 100 percent buy in to the new program and staff, learn to trust/play for each other. Constant forward progress will complete the culture change.
Who are your team leaders? Sydnie Sahhar and Drenn Meginnis have been clear leaders from the beginning along with support from Hailey Galvez. All three are sophomores and so I feel they will only continue to grow in that capacity. I am starting to see sign of a few of our older kids starting to also take on leadership roles, Natalie DelPonte and Kaitlyn Swisher both juniors.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad who could make an impact? I have 3-4 freshman getting significant time early, Aubrey Maya, Jaydin Gonzalez, Aryanna Garcia and Marley Burd. I am hopeful they can continue to grow and help us with the role they have earned so far.
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season, or reach the goals the program has set? We need some kids to get back on the field and stay healthy. We just need to play the game for each other, complete buy in to a role that is team first. Most of all we need our best players to step up to lead us, not carry us; but to understand the difference. To know that even when they are not performing as they expect, to be able find other ways to lead us and keep good energy for the younger kids who are looking to them for that leadership.

Deer Valley Skyhawks
5A Desert West Region
Coach: Jason Shepherd (first year at Deer Valley)
2016 Record: 11-19 (Did not reach Division II playoffs)
Top Returnees: Lizzy Cartwright, Sr., OF (.537, 17 RBI); Rene Burkland, Jr., SS (.456, 19 RBI)
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Our best team attribute entering the season is that we work hard and play together as a team
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We need to improve our consistency.
Who are your team leaders? Our team leaders this year are Liz Cartwright and Rene Burkland.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad who could make an impact? Newcomers that Will make an impact are Carolina Barragan and Lauren Daplama.
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? To make it to the state tournament the season we will need to be consistent and play as a team.

Dysart Demons
4A Black Canyon Region
2016 record: 6-17 (Did not reach Division IV playoffs)
Coach: Misti Novotny (first year at Dysart)
Top Returnees: Rosemary Rodriguez, Sr., OF (.583, 7 SB); Demara Carr, Sr., C (.478)
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Our team’s best attribute as we enter this season is that we seem to have many girls that are versatile players.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? For our season to be a success we want to continue always improving our fundamentals and making sure all plays are completed cohesively.
Who are your team leaders? We have multiple team leaders this year including six senior players. Rotating team captains this year include: Alexis Wallen, Nicole Ayala, Rosemary Rodriguez and Renee Carrillo.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? We have many returning players and upper classmen from last year’s team, but we also have two sophomores, Elyssa Gutierrez and Ruby Montoya, and one freshmen, Yadi Mendoza, which should all be great additions to varsity.
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? For us to reach our team goals, again we will have to continue making cohesive plays, build strength with our batting, and develop flexibility and resilience during game time.

Liberty Lions
5A Northwest Region
Coach: Kara Holtorf (third year at Liberty).
2016 Record: 7-21-1 (First round of Division I playoffs)
Top Returnees: Rebecca Woolf, Jr., C (.351, 14 RBI); Taylor Clarke, Sr., SS (.271, 7 SB, 7 RBI)
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? We have a great group of young ladies who love to just play the game. Our team is pretty split between young players and returners so it is a big test for us with so many new players; however, it is also a positive outlook towards the season as these girls continue to get used to playing with each other.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We have to be solid on defense and make the plays we are supposed to make. Offensively, we have to adjust to the pitching we see from game to game. If we do these things daily, we will be competitive in every game that we play.
Who are your team leaders? Early in the season, Taylor Clarke and Rebecca Woolf have really stepped up and lead the team. Having a lot of younger teammates, they have both been consistent in leading their teammates both on and off the field. As we move further along in the season, all of our players will find themselves in some sort of leadership role.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad who could make an impact? We have six freshman new to our team this season. Five of the six are starters. Tatum Chestnut and Madyson Devers have already made big strides as freshman on a varsity team. Tatum is a huge asset defensively in center field and Madyson Devers is offensively and defensively strong for our lineup. Between speed, power, and game knowledge, all six of these freshman bring a lot to the table.
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season, or reach the goals the program has set? To get better each and every day. If we do this, we will be able to compete against anyone that we will face. We strive to get better every day and to leave everything out on the field. To be positive and have fun!

Mountain Ridge Mountain Lions
Coach: Kent Decker (second year at Mountain Ridge)
6A Desert Valley Region
2015 record: 16-13 (Second round of Division I playoffs)
Top Returnees: Payton Alsobrooks, Sr., C; Riley Seegan, Sr., DP/1B

Mountain Ridge junior Payton Alsobrooks (#11) hits a foul ball against Sandra Day O’Connor April 19, 2016. She is a senior this year. (Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps)

What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Team defense
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? Pitching
Who are your team leaders? All the seniors (there are seven) make this a pretty balanced team. That all lead.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? Paige Callahan and Tatum Johnson. Both are freshmen.
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season? Beat the teams that we should and win one or two that were not. Our goal is to make the playoffs each and every year.

 

Paradise Honors Panthers
2A Central Region
2016 record: 17-6 (First round of Division IV tournament)
Coach: Paul Hatcher (second year at Paradise Honors)
Top Returnees: Katie Hatcher, Jr., SS/P (.640, 24 SB, 19 RBI); Samantha Anderson, Sr., C (.512, 3 HR, 39 RBI, 1.40 ERA, 15-3, 111 K in 80 IP)
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? Our best attribute is that we are collectively one solid team — one unit.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? The season will be a success if all 15 of the Lady Panthers come to the field everyday with a great attitude, 100 percentconcentration, and a winning effort.
Who are your team leaders? Paradise Honors Softball has 15 young women who are all leaders. Some perhaps more than others, but all will be leading.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? All our newcomers will make an impact. It may be between the lines, or being a great teammate in the dugout, or both.
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season, or reach the goals the program has set? If all 15 of the Lady Panthers do their job, and that is to play with a great attitude, 100percent concentration, and the best effort they can give everyday, and be 1 collective unit, instead of 15 individual pieces, then our goals will be met, regardless of whether the Lady Panthers play in the state tournament or not.

Peoria Panthers
4A West Valley Region
Coach: Jim Sweet (eighth year).
2016 Record: 7-16 (Did not reach Division II playoffs)
Top Returnees: Julia Olibarra, Sr.
What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? This team is scrapy and presistent
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? We will need to play a full seven innings each game and stay focused from start to finish … can’t afford to take off innings or plays
Who are your team leaders? Sydnie Sahhar and Drenn Meginnis have been clear leaders from the beginning along with support from Hailey Galvez. All three are sophomores and so I feel they will only continue to grow in that capacity. I am starting to see sign of a few of our older kids starting to also take on leadership roles, Natalie DelPonte and Kaitlyn Swisher both juniors.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad who could make an impact? Elisa Granado and Andraya Romero
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season, or reach the goals the program has set? We are going to need to play from start to finish, not give up the big inning and push runners around when in scoring position.

Shadow Ridge Stallions
5A Northwest Region
2016 record: 21-7 (First round of Division II playoffs)
Coach: Vicki Bejarano (third year)
Top Returnees: Devynn Marshall, Sr., UT/P (.511, 34 RBI, 2.53 ERA); Hayley Bejarano, Sr., CF/1B (.432, 4 HR, 27 RBI)

Freshman Riley Holmberg (#5) steals second base against Willow Canyon April 12, 2016 at Shadow Ridge High School in Surprise. She returns for her sophomore season. (Jacob Stanek/West Valley Preps)

What is your team’s best attribute entering this season? We have great leadership from our upperclassmen and our hitting has strengthen through our lineup.
What will your team need to improve for the season to be a success? That our girls can stay focused and mentally stay in the game knowing what they are capable of.
Who are your team leaders? Hayley Bejarano, Maya Lentz, and Devynn Marshall. I also have some underclassmen who are already stepping up and demonstrating leadership skills.
Who are newcomers to the varsity squad that could make an impact? Sophia Carroll, Aris Carroll, Cassidy Young,
What needs to happen for your squad to reach the state tournament this season, or reach the goals the program has set? We need to work as a team to stay focused and mentally strong. We also need to work on consistency. Consistency equals trust. If we stay focused, become stronger mentally, and stay consistent we will reach our end of the year goal.

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