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softball

Photos by Victor Moreno

High school varsity spring sports are under way. Maricopa High School introduces a new sport in beach volleyball while other sports hope to get back into state contention.

Sequoia Pathway Baseball
CAA Division II Region II
March 2 v. WSST 5 p.m.
March 6 at HA-Laveen 4 p.m.
March 9 v. El Dorado 4 p.m.
March 21 v. South Pointe 4 p.m.
March 26 at ASU Prep Poly 5 p.m.
March 27 at HA-Mesa 4:15 p.m.
April 3 at EVAC 4 p.m.
April 5 at Imagine Prep Coolidge 4:30 p.m.
April 7 v. ALA-Ironwood 11 a.m.
April 9 v. Imagine Prep Coolidge 4:30 p.m.
April 11 v. Canyon State 4 p.m.

Sequoia Pathway Softball
CAA Division II Region I
March 1 v. ALA-Gilbert 4 p.m.
March 7 at Imagine Prep Surprise 4 p.m.
March 9 v. Imagine Prep Coolidge 4 p.m.
April 2 at Tri-City College Prep 4 p.m.
April 4 v. ALA-Ironwood 4 p.m.
April 5 at ALA-Gilbert 4 p.m.
April 10 v. Mission Heights 4 p.m.
April 12 at HA-Laveen 4 p.m.
April 17 v. South Ridge 4 p.m.
April 19 at Paradise Valley Christian 4 p.m.

Maricopa High School Baseball
AIA Division 5A Section Metro (remaining schedule)
March 1 v. Sierra Linda 3:45 p.m.
March 2 v. Desert Edge 3:45 p.m.
March 5 v. Glendale 3:45 p.m.
March 7 v. Ironwood 4 p.m.
March 10-13 Bob Everett Spring Break Classic at Highland HS
March 21 at Vista Grande 6 p.m.
March 22 at Mesquite 4 p.m.
March 26 at Kellis 3:45 p.m.
March 27 v. Kellis 3:45 p.m.
March 29 at Casa Grande 4 p.m.
April 3 at Sunnyslope 4 p.m.
April 5 v. Verrado 3:45 p.m.
April 6 v. Sunnyslope 3:45 p.m.
April 10 v. Apollo 3:45 p.m.
April 11 v. Ironwood 6:30 p.m.
April 12 at Apollo 4 p.m.
April 17 at McClintock 4 p.m.
April 19 v. McClintock (Senior Night) 3:45 p.m.
April 20 at Williams Field 3:45 p.m.

Maricopa High School Softball
AIA Division 5A Section Metro (remaining schedule)
March 1 at Sierra Linda 4 p.m.
March 2 at Desert Edge6 p.m.
March 5 at Glendale 4 p.m.
March 6 v. Vista Grande 3:45 p.m.
March 8 v. Williams Field 3:45 p.m.
March 19 v. Mesquite 3:45 p.m.
March 27 at Kellis 4 p.m.
March 29 v. Casa Grande 3:45 p.m.
March 30 v. Kellis 3:45 p.m.
April 3 v. Sunnyslope 3:45 p.m.
April 5 at Verrado 4 p.m.
April 6 at Sunnyslope 4 p.m.
April 10 at Apollo 4 p.m.
April 11 at Ironwood 4 p.m.
April 12 v. Apollo 3:45 p.m.
April 17 v. McClintock (Senior Night) 3:45 p.m.
April 19 at McClintock 4 p.m.

Maricopa High School Track & Field
AIA Division II
March 7 at Chaparral 4 p.m.
March 10 at Desert Tune-Up (Mountain View Marana) 8 a.m.
March 21 at McClintock 3 p.m.
March 22 at Schuster Jones Under-Class Showcase 12 p.m.
March 28 at Maricopa Twilight 3:30 p.m.
April 13 at Hohokam Invitational 9:30 a.m.

Maricopa High School Boys’ Tennis
AIA Division I Section I (remaining schedule)
March 2 v. Casa Grande 3:30 p.m.
March 8 at Higley 3:30 p.m.
March 22 at Williams Field 3:30 p.m.
March 27 v. Cibola 3:30 p.m.
March 28 v. Tolleson Union 3:30 p.m.
March 29 at San Luis 3:30 p.m.
April 3 at Millennium 3:30 p.m.
April 4 at La Joya Community 3:30 p.m.
April 10 v. Westview 3:30 p.m.
April 12 at Kofa 3:30 p.m.

Maricopa High School Girls’ Tennis
AIA Division I Section I (remaining schedule)
March 1 v. Casteel 3:30 p.m.
March 5 at Casa Grande 3:30 p.m.
March 8 v. Higley 3:30 p.m.
March 27 at Cibola 3 p.m.
March 28 at Tolleson Union 3:30 p.m.
March 29 v. San Luis 3:30 p.m.
April 3 v. Millennium 3:30 p.m.
April 4 v. La Joya Community 3:30 p.m.
April 10 at Westview 3:30 p.m.
April 12 v. Kofa 3:30 p.m.
April 16 v. Williams Field 3:30 p.m.

Maricopa High School Beach Volleyball
AIA Division I Section IV (remaining schedule)
March 5 v. Casteel at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
March 26 v. Millennium at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
March 28 at Willow Canyon at Victory Lane Complex 4 p.m.
April 2 at Shadow Ridge at Victory Lane Complex 4 p.m.
April 4 at Perry at Seville Golf & Country Club 6:30 p.m.
April 9 v. Verrado at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
April 11 v. Dysart at Copper Sky 4 p.m.
April 13 v. Hamilton at Copper Sky (Senior Night) 4 p.m.
April 16 at Mesquite High School 4 p.m.

 

 

The Maricopa Rams started the 2018 season in a home tournament Thursday. Photo by Michelle Chance

Maricopa High School Softball fell at home, 12-2, against Florence Thursday during the team’s season opener at the annual Krystin Diehl Tournament.

It was the first game led by new head coach Jason Crawford. He joined MHS in August as an English teacher.

A day ahead of the game, Crawford said the team’s biggest challenge is its nerves.

“We have been working hard the entire off season for this moment, and now that it’s here, I need to keep the girls’ from getting too nervous and losing focus of our goals,” Crawford said.

The team was plagued with pre-season jitters during its scrimmage Saturday, Crawford said, and despite moments of confidence on the mound and behind the plate Thursday, Rams softball couldn’t shake the butterflies for a win.

Rams varsity softball is a young team this year — made up of mostly underclassmen and only a handful of juniors and seniors.

Crawford said he’s looking to his older players to mentor their newest players on the field.

With the first game under their belt, Crawford said the team is “working out those kinks of youth and inexperience.”

Rams softball faces off against McClintock High Friday at 4:30 p.m.



MOBILE USERS GET NEWS FIRST. Download InMaricopa for Apple and Android devices.


This story has been corrected from a previous version to indicate Mr. Crawford is an English teacher.


A new club softball organization is hosting two first-time “friendly” tournaments in August dubbed “Maricopa Mayhem.”

Maricopa Sandlot fields fast-pitch 12-under and 14-under girls’ teams. The club launched in 2016 to give the girls more competitive opportunities, coach Michael O’Dell said.

The 12U tournament is Aug. 12-13 and the 14U tournament is Aug. 18-20 at Copper Sky Regional Park, 44345 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Sixteen teams are being accepted for each.

In both tournaments of Maricopa Mayhem, games start at 8 a.m. both days and are timed for 60 minutes. Saturday’s games will run into the evening, and Sunday’s games will end with the championship game in the mid-afternoon.

The team entry fee is $350. There will be a team trophy and prizes for first and second place.

The tournaments are for fun and sportsmanship and are not United States Specialty Sports Association qualifiers. O’Dell said he and the other parents have worked hard to recruit teams to participate.

“We’ve done quite a bit of legwork, and we’ve posted it on 43ft.com [a softball forum],” he said.

Maricopa Sandlot started with one team of 12 players in spring of ’16 as the girls and their parents were looking for stronger competition than they could find locally. The parents coached and formed a club with uniforms and logos.

After playing in the Tempe Lady Hawks Softball League, eight of the players went on to a higher level of competition, leaving the Sandlot with just four girls.

O’Dell thought that was the end of the experiment, but more parents approached him that fall and asked if the team was going to continue. They soon had enough girls for 12U and 14U teams. O’Dell said they plan to add 10U.

Maricopa Sandlot plays spring and fall seasons.

MaricopaSandlot.az@gmail.com


This story appears in the August issue of InMaricopa.

Jason Crawford takes over the Rams softball program, which competes in spring. Submitted photo

 A new coach will lead the Maricopa High School softball team this year.

Jason Crawford joined MHS in August as softball head coach and English teacher, Athletic Director Brian Winter said.

Crawford has a decade’s experience coaching softball. Six of those years include head coaching positions at high schools in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Crawford will inherit a Ram team that, in April, finished a difficult season after their first year in the 5A Metro region.

“I know there has been some disconnect, and I’m excited to try and reinvigorate the community and get (them) behind the girls to build a strong program that’s going to be successful year after year,” Crawford said.

Ram softball could see a bolster in its operations as Crawford and Winter, both entering their positions at MHS this year, set two fresh pairs of eyes on the program.

“(Winter) and I both have lofty goals and lofty expectations,” Crawford said. “We seem to be on the very same page in terms of what we see in the future and how we see it getting there.”

In his tenure, Crawford also coached recreation ball and travel teams, the latter of which he hopes to establish at MHS during the summer.

“I’d like to keep (the team) together and keep them playing against top-tier talent to help make them better ball players and get them exposed to get them to college,” Crawford said.

From left, Juliette Hawthorn, Carter Paine and Jackson Stensgard were named All-Region First Team. Photos by Raquel Hendrickson

In 5A Metro voting this week, eight Maricopa High School baseball and softball players were named to All-Region teams.

Junior Carter Paine and senior Jackson Stensgard were voted First Team in baseball. Junior Taylor Belcher and sophomore Devin Fiala were Second Team, and junior Tyler Belcher and sophomore Malachi Hogg received honorable mention.

Maricopa High School placed the following athletes on the All-Region Teams:

In softball, senior Juliette Hawthorn was named First Team, and sophomore Chantel Holquin was Second Team as a pitcher.

Paine batted .408, and 12 runs batted in and scored 29 runs. He hit six doubles and a team-leading three triples. He drew 19 walks and had the team’s best on-base percentage of .536. He led the team in steals with nine. He was a workhorse on the mound, pitching 46.1 innings for a 2-5 record. He struck out 40 and walked 28.

Stensgard played in just 18 of the team’s 26 games and batted .476. He hit seven doubles and three of the Rams’ five home runs. He batted in 15 runs and scored another 10. He pitched in six games and 1-5. He struck out 20 and walked 16.

Taylor Belcher hit .325 while playing third base. He had a home run and five doubles and drove in 23 runs. He pitched in nine games and was 0-1. He struck out 11 and walked nine.

Fiala batted .347 and drove in 11 runs. He stole five bases. He turned 12 double plays.

Tyler Belcher hit .288 and scored 15 runs. As a pitcher, he had the Rams’ only winning record, with four wins and two losses in 31.1 innings. He struck out 25 and walked 24.

New to the team, Hogg batted .349, with six doubles and 14 RBI in 24 games.

For the softball Rams, Hawthorn led the team with a .494 average in 26 games. Among her 40 hits were five triples and seven doubles. She also had one of the team’s two home runs this season.

Holquin batted .339. She had 21 hits, including eight doubles, and scored 15 runs. She was error-free in the field. On the mound, Holquin was 3-14, pitching 92.2 innings. She struck out 23 and walked six.

Seniors (from left) Andrea Gallegos, Stephanie Palafox, Juliette Hawthorn, Makailah Hogg and Sabrina Montoya. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

The Maricopa High School softball team ended a difficult year Thursday with a region loss to McClintock, 18-4. The Rams also said goodbye to five senior players that night after posting an overall record of 4-23.

 “We were really young, but we really learned a lot this year,” coach Brandi Howell said. “Every game we were making progress. When we were losing, we were making progress, and that’s huge.”

In their first year in the 5A Metro region, the girls were 1-9, defeating only Kellis. The Rams started the season with several inexperienced players.

 Howell said the beginning and end of the year were like “night and day.” She saw improvement throughout the season and said the girls were making difficult plays they could not have made at the beginning of the year.

 “Our mindset became different,” she said. “Even when we might not have been executing sometimes, our mind was there. We knew where to go before panicking a little bit.”

 Howell said even an umpire questioned whether she had the same team she had at the beginning of the year. “He said, ‘I know they’re losing, but they look so much better,’” Howell recalled.

 At the end of the game, Maricopa’s seniors handed out flowers to McClintock’s seniors. They were then honored by the team and families and were upbeat about the experience.

 “I’d like to give a shout-out to my teammates for making this a great last season for me,” senior Sabrina Montoya said.

 “My favorite memories were bonding with the team on bus rides, warmups and practice,” senior Andrea Gallegos said.

 A newcomer on the team this year, senior Makailah Hogg said her favorite memory was “pulling a Willie Mays catch that Coach Steve [Weiner] taught me.”

 For senior Juliette Hawthorn it was a painful but funny memory of running into the outfield fence. And for senior Montoya, it was diving into third base and home plate “because I wanted to get dirty.”

 Senior Stephanie Palafox thanked her teammates for making the season fun and her coaches Howell, Weiner and Tom Dugan for their time and effort.

 Though this season “didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to,” Howell thinks the team will come back strong in 2018.

 “I think we’ll have a pretty strong set of infielders coming back,” she said. “We’ll have to replace our outfield, but any time you can have a returning pitcher, it’s huge.”

MHS photo

 

The Maricopa High School Lady Rams softball team is starts its 2017 season with a three-game home tournament Friday.

Roster
1 Hannah Hickey – Fr
2 Sydney McDill – Fr
3 Hope Barajas – Fr
4 Chantel Holquin – Soph
5 Caitlin Wilson – Jr
6 Andrea Harker – Fr
7 Kianna Miller-Gomez – Fr
8 Kielee Keys – Fr
9 Elaina Olivarez – Soph
10 Bailey Petty – Fr
11 Julliette Hawthorn – Sr
12 Kayla Occhiline – Fr
13 Kennedy Glen – Fr
14 Daisy Guzman – Soph
15 Stephanie Palafox – Sr
16 Sabrina Montoya – Sr
17 Andrea Gallegos – Sr
22 Joy Breul – Soph
24 Mikaila Hogg – Sr

Head coach Brandi Howell said her varsity line-up is somewhat young this year with only one returning player.

“It’s a whole new group of girls,” Howell said. “So, they’re definitely working hard, but we have lots to learn. Holguin [Chantel Holguin] is working hard and she’s really stepped up as a leader.”

Howell admitted one of the biggest challenges so far is the learning curve. With such inexperienced players, she has been working extra hard to teach them the ins and outs of the sport. The progress they’ve made, she said, is a great sign of things to come.

“We’ve come a long way from the first day already,” Howell said. “It’s like night and day.”

Howell believes the tournament is a perfect way for the relatively inexperienced team to pick up some hard knowledge of the sport before regular play begins.

“We definitely [still] have a lot to learn,” Howell said.  “So, we’re using these tournaments as a learning tool.”

The mistake that her players make are “young” mistakes, she said, but their ability to catch on quickly is tremendous and you just can’t beat real-time learning.

“There is no better time to learn than in a game,” Howell said.

The team is carrying a larger than normal roster going into the tournament – 19 players, a measure Howell is taking in order to help get some of the less knowledgeable players see the game up close.

“With us being so young we think its super valuable for them to be around the game learning these things,” she said.

The varsity roster will likely shrink to around 13 players after the tournament.

Holguin returns as a sophomore utility player and pitcher. Also notable is a recent transfer from California, senior outfielder and infielder Juliette Hawthorn.

The Lady Rams will faceoff first against McClintock at 9 a.m., second against Peoria at 3 p.m., and last against Higley at 5 p.m., all on Friday at Maricopa High School.


Krysten Diehl Tourament – Maricopa High School
Feb. 24     McClintock    9 a.m.
Feb. 24     Peoria            3 p.m.
Feb. 24     Higley            5 p.m.
Feb. 25     TBA                TBA
Feb. 25     TBA                TBA

2017 Schedule
Feb. 24-25    Krysten Diehl Tourney    TBA    Home
Feb. 28           Sierra Linda                    4:00   Home
March 3           Desert Edge                   4:00   Home
March 6           Glendale                         4:00   Home
March 7            Vista Grande                  4:00   Away
March 9           Williams Field               3:45   Away
March 15         Youngker Invitational    TBA    Away
March 23         Mesquite                       6:30   Away
March 24         Ironwood*                      3:45  Away
March 28         Kellis*                            4:00   Home
March 30         Casa Grande                   3:45   Away
March 31          Kellis*                           3:45   Away
April 4              Sunnyslope*                 4:00   Away
April 6              Verrado                          4:00   Home
April 7              Sunnyslope*                  4:00   Home
April 11            Apollo*                          4:00   Home
April 12            Ironwood*                      4:00   Home
April 13             Apollo*                          7:00   Away
April 18             McClintock*                   4:00   Away
April 20             McClintock*(Senior Night) 4:00   Home

*5A Metro

 

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Maricopa High School softball team 2016. Photo by William Lange

The Maricopa High School softball team hopes to have a strong performance with a senior-heavy roster in the 2016 season.

“We’re really hoping to make the playoffs this year,” head coach Brandi Howell said. “We have 11 seniors this season, so their experience should help. We’re really looking to make a mark.”

The Rams look to be balanced on both offense and defense. With so many veterans, the Rams will have plenty of firepower in both hitting and pitching aspects of the game.

“Hitting-wise, I think we should be strong,” Howell said. “I also think Amber Cramer will have a great year pitching.”

Maricopa will be dropping to Arizona Interscholastic Association Division III for the 2016 season. The Rams will also only play three returning playoff teams from 2015. The girls expect their experience at the higher levels of competition to help carry them through a moderate schedule.

“We’re looking to perform consistently throughout the year,” Howell said. “We have moved down a division this year. We will be moving back up next year, so we want to make a name for ourselves this season.”

To open the season, the girls finished second in the Agua Fria Tournament. Their overall record is 3-4. Friday and Saturday, the Rams host the annual Kristen Diehl Tournament.

Schedule
Feb. 22        Agua Fria Tourney/Agua Fria            W 8-2
Feb. 24        Agua Fria Tourney/Florence             L 1-7
Feb. 24        Agua Fria Tourney/Youngkers           L 2-5
Feb. 26        Agua Fria Tourney/Agua Fria            W 6-3
Feb. 27        Agua Fria Tourney/Buckeye             W 8-3
Feb. 27        Agua Fria Championship/AF             L 4-10
March 1       @ Seton Catholic                               L 1-7
March 4-5    (H) Kristen Diehl Tournament
March 16      v. Marcos de Niza                              4 p.m.
March 18      v. Youngker                                        3:45 p.m.
March 22      v. Coolidge                                         3:45 p.m.
March 23      v. Betty Fairfax                                  3:45 p.m.
March 24      v. Casa Grande                                   4 p.m.
March 29     @ Estrella Foothills                         6 p.m.
March 31     @ North                                              3:45 p.m.
April 5          @ Poston Butte                                 7 p.m.
April 8           v. Fountain Hills                                3:45 p.m.
April 13        @ Veritas Prep                                   3:45 p.m.
April 15        @ Saguaro                                         3:45 p.m.
April 19        v. Apache Junction                            3:45 p.m.
April 20        @ Vista Grande                                 4 p.m.
April 22        @Tempe                                            3:45 p.m.
April 26        v. Higley                                              3:45 p.m.
April 27        @ Sahuarita                                       4 p.m.

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Amber Cramer (MUSD photo)

Maricopa High School senior Amber Cramer recently signed a Letter of Intent to play softball at Chandler-Gilbert
Community College.

Pitching for the Rams last season, Cramer had a 3.61 earned run average in 66 innings through 19 games. She struck out 33 while walking eight and giving up 112 hits. Her highest strikeout total was six against Higley.

Cramer pitched 11 games for the varsity team as a sophomore. She was 4-3 with an ERA of 3.85. She struck out 20 and walked only five for that season.

Going into her senior season later this semester, she has a career ERA of 3.71 with MHS.