Corona’s girls JV softball team had a recordsetting year with an undefeated 18-0 season. Even more remarkable is the ages of the players on the team with seven freshman having prominent roles.
“This is my sixth year coaching at Corona and we have never been undefeated,” said JV head coach Brittany Giannonatti. “This season made me very proud of my team. They were an absolute joy to coach.”
The reality of the possibility of an undefeated season started to hit the team and coaches towards the end of the season.
“Throughout the season, our team did well with staying in each game and keeping our focus. Keeping young minds focused can be tough when you are scoring 20+ runs on teams,” said Giannonatti. “They handled each game with class and good sportsmanship.”
The pressure really started to build with only three games left especially because the last two were against Highland, a team who was supposed to be playing well late in the season.
No problem. The players and coaches were able to stay on track first defeating Mountain Point 10-3 and then Highland 14-0 and 21-0 those last three games
“Honestly, Highland ended up being two of our easier wins. We run-ruled Highland pretty bad,” said Giannonatti. “Our toughest games were Hamilton and Boulder Creek. In Boulder Creek’s game, we won in the last inning. This come-from-behind win showed the heart of our players and how they never gave up.”
Being able to score 45 runs while only giving up three runs in their last three games attests to the offensive and defensive skills of this team starting with the batters.
“Taylor Kolling was our No. 4 hitter in the lineup,” said Giannonatti. “She did a great job batting in that position and hit two out of the park homeruns.”
“Jada Wendling was our No. 3 hitter who hit the majority of our RBIs,” said Giannonatti. “Jordan Thorpe was also another power hitter on team plus we were able to challenge our opponent’s pitchers because we had five left-handed batters on our team.”
It also helps to have players who can run the bases well in order to score more runs.
“Ali Staples and Tristin Jamar were two of our fastest base runners,” said Giannonatti.
Scoring runs is only part of winning games. Corona’s JV team was outstanding playing defense on the field as well.
“This season’s team did a great job working cohesively as a unit and team especially moving defensively,” said Giannonatti. “Each player knew where they needed to be during plays.”
Corona’s JV team was loaded with so many talented players that the coaches were able to have multiple players able to play different positions on the field.
“All of the girls played well all season,” said Giannonatti. “We had flexible players who were open to playing different positions, so we were able to play all of the girls almost every game,”
“For instance, some of our utility players like Taylor Posadas, who was our No. 1 catcher and caught most of our games, also played short stop and in the outfield,” said Giannonatti. “Then Taylor Pouncey played first base, third base and catcher.”
“Although our players switched around often, we did have some players who played the same position most of the time,” said Giannonatti.
“Our starting infield players were mainly Jordan Thorpe at first base, Hailey Thompson or Shelby Williamson at second base, Taylor Knolling at short stop and Krystyna Pagel at third base.”
In the outfield, Tristin Jamar played center field almost every game while the other main players in the outfield included Alex Reeve and Sarah Schop at left field and Ali Stapes, Ari Tammaro and Jennifer Steele in right field according to Giannonatti.
Often thought as one of the most important positions in softball, Corona had three good pitchers this season.
“Jada Wendling was our No. 1 pitcher this season, but we also could count on Jennifer Steele and Ari Tammaro to throw a good pitch,” said Giannonatti. “Jada pitched 11 of the 18 games this season including our toughest games against Hamilton and Boulder Creek while Jennifer threw a perfect game against Desert Vista.”
“Although all the players worked hard every single game, Jada Wendling was really an all-star this season,” said Giannonatti. “She pitched wins against our toughest games and, as our No. 3 batter, hit most of our RBI’s.”
Leading the team on and off the field were the three juniors on the team: Taylor Posadas, Hailey Thompson, and Sarah Schop.
Although not able to play this season due to injury, Bayleigh Bradley was a large part of the teams’ successful season, according to Giannonatti. In addition to keeping score at the games, Bayleigh helped at practice.
The players from this undefeated JV softball team will have a chance to move up next season to Corona’s varsity team who will lose nine senior players to graduation.
For the first time in years, Corona’s softball team was ranked in the top five heading into the state playoffs.
The Aztecs were an automatic qualifier heading into the state tournament as the No. 4 seeded team with a 23-7 record.
“It’s great being ranked in the top eight with an automatic qualification into the state tournament,” said head coach Jeep Ray. “We have not been there for a while.”
The Aztecs made it past the first round of the 6A State Championship when they defeated Rincon/University 3-2 in extra innings in a game played on their home field April 28.
The score was tied at 2-2 at the end of 9 innings before the Aztecs were able to score the winning run in the bottom of the 10th to win the game.
The Aztecs, with nine seniors, have an experienced team. They are going to have to rely on several of these experienced senior players, in addition to some of their younger players, if they hope to get through the state playoff tournament brackets into the finals.
Four of these seniors, Caleigh Tilden-Long, Jessica Lynch, Mikaeli Davidson, and Olivia Miller, helped the Aztecs defeat the Rangers in the first round by either scoring a run or getting an RBI. Davidson and Miller along with sophomore Sierra Fuchs each scored a run.
“We have two exceptional pitchers this season,” said Ray. “Jessica Lynch, who is headed to Utah next year to study kinesiology and Mikaeli Davidson, who is headed to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University to study global security.”
Lynch pitched nine innings against the Rangers striking out 10 of the 41 batters she faced while allowing only six hits and two runs.
Davidson pitched less than one inning in the same game striking out one of the four batters she faced while allowing one hit.
On defense, the team, put out 30 batters, with the majority, 13, credited to junior Alexis Massie while fellow junior, Ally Quintero, playing second base, had five put outs.
Other infield players include Summer Duran and Zoey Joshlin sharing time on third base and Reyna Mori as shortstop according to Ray. Lynch and Davidson tradeoff between first base and pitcher.
“We have all seniors in our outfield,” said Ray. “Our outfield is led by Olivia Miller playing center fielder with Caleigh Tilden-Long in left and Nicole Neumann in right.
Corona was scheduled to play No. 5 Cibola in the second round on May 1 at 4 p.m. on their home field.
The Raiders out of Yuma have a 30-2 record and, on paper, look like a formidable team.
If they prevail against Cibola, the Aztecs would play the winner of the No. 1 Hamilton versus No. 8 Basha matchup in the third round scheduled for May 3 at 8 p.m. at the Rose Mofford Complex.
If the Aztecs lose to the Raiders, they move into the losers bracket and have a chance to continue playing because starting in the second round, the state tournament turns into a double elimination tournament.
Marcos de Niza Baseball
The Padres entered the 4A state baseball tournament as the No. 18 seed and had to play in the 4A Conference Play-In Tournament where they defeated the No. 15 Douglas team on April 25 to enter the 4A state playoffs as the No. 14 seed.
Unfortunately, they lost in the first round to No. 3 Seton Catholic Prep 8-3 on April 28.
The Padres have nine seniors on the team who were honored at their last home game when they defeated Yuma 13-0 on April 19.
These seniors included Nick Leach, who played short stop, Max L’Heureux, catcher and third base, Kevin Dunnahoo, outfielder, Adam Sebastian, third base and catcher, Michael Rosales, outfielder, JP Patterson, catcher and first base, Tyler Daraban, pitcher and first base and Eric Oden, pitcher and outfielder.