Archive for: March 2014

Softball Earns Split; Baseball Drops Pair in Tucson

BaseballRams softball and baseball teams have seen better weeks.

The softball team (9-6, 1-1) won in convincing fashion at home with a 17-2 win over Horizon Honors then traveled to Salpointe Catholic in Tucson and was shut out 10-0.

The baseball team (6-6, 1-3) made back-to-back trips to Tucson last week and left both times empty handed losing 16-4 to Catalina Foothills and 8-7 to Salpointe Catholic.

The week began on an overcast, windy day in Tucson on Tuesday when Coach Andrew Pollak’s varsity squad took the field against the Catalina Foothills Falcons (13-3). The game got off to a rocky start for senior pitcher Dallas Speer (3-1) who was shelled for nine runs in the first inning. Speer came back in the second inning and gave up consecutive walks to begin the inning before being pulled by Pollak.

“It just wasn’t his day,” Pollak said after the game. “Dallas is a great pitcher, but he couldn’t throw a fastball for a strike today.”

Bernardo Juarez

Bernardo Juarez

Speer was replaced by Bernardo Juarez and was handed his second straight loss. The Falcons were no kinder to Juarez who surrendered seven runs over the next three innings, although the first two were charged to Speer.

Maricopa’s bats showed up a little too late as senior Tristan Hartley notched two hits and two RBI as the Rams would score four runs in the final two innings.

“We’re not a 16-4 team,” Pollak said during a post-game interview. “Our goal is to come back on Thursday and even the series.”

Senior Dillon Moran (1-2) took the mound against Salpointe Catholic (10-2) and stymied the Lancers in the first inning. The Rams would take a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the second before giving up four runs to the home team.

The Rams responded with big innings in the third and fourth innings and took a 7-6 lead into the fifth inning. Hartley again led the offense with 3-of-4 hitting with a double and three runs scored. Junior Nick Diaz and Moran each drive home two RBIs.

Moran was replaced in the fifth inning by Hartley after allowing two men on base before recording the first out. Hartley went on to pitch 1.2 innings of one-hit baseball but that hit was enough to put Salpointe up 8-7 and secure the victory for the Lancers.

Maricopa hosts Seton Catholic (6-9) from Chandler at 3:45 p.m. today. The Sentinels are 2-3 on the road, while the Rams are 1-1 at home.

Chelsea Trejo & Madi Moncel w/ Coach Ansley

Chelsea Trejo & Madi Moncel w/ Coach Ansley

The softball team hosted Horizon Honors (2-6) on Wednesday and showed no mercy on the Eagles opening up with three runs in the first and nine in the second. Sophomore pitcher Yasmin Santa Cruz earned her third straight victory and moved to 3-1 on the season.

Senior catcher Madi Moncel fueled the offense on Wednesday with two hits, two RBIs and two runs scored. Isabel McCloskey, Sydnee Akers and Rosie Naranjo drove in nine runs with three RBIs apiece. The ladies had a knack of getting on base through unconventional ways with seven walks, four errors and three hit batters.

Coach Chris Ansley’s varsity squad was also at Salpointe Catholic in Tucson on Thursday to take on the 5-6 Lancers. Junior pitcher Victoria Andrade, the star of the Kristyn Diehl Tournament, struggled once again from the circle.

Andrade (3-5) gave up five runs in the first, four in the third and one in the fourth before the game was called due to the mercy rule in the fifth. The Rams managed only four hits in the game and were charged with a season-high eight fielding errors.

The ladies travel to take on Seton Catholic (7-11) 4 p.m. today. The Sentinels are 4-2 at home and the Rams are 1-2 in true away games.

Fourth-year Maricopa High Softball Coach Delivers Winning Attitude

Trejo Ansley Moncel

There is a respectful man in Maricopa and he is coaching the varsity softball team.

Chris Ansley, the head softball coach, is a soft-spoken man who instills confidence and teaches respect to the girls of the Maricopa High School Rams’ softball team.

Meeting up with Coach Ansley prior to a game at Flowing Wells High School in Tucson, one gets to know more about what makes him tick. The girls ended up dropping the game to the Caballeros on a sunny afternoon, but Ansley and the players were all smiles and looked toward the next day’s game.

Ansley, a 10-year resident of Maricopa, has run the gamut in coaching from Pop Warner football to high school track and field coach at his alma mater Tempe High School. Ansley originally is from Tempe and played football for the Buffaloes.

Getting in some pre-game BP

Getting in some pre-game BP

Ansley brings a coaching philosophy of “fear none and respect all” and it is represented in his consistently improving record. In his first season as head coach, Ansley nearly tripled the number of wins from four to 11. The 2012 season’s win total was increased to 14 and last year was the first winning season in recent memory with a 15-12 finish.

The 2013 team was packed with nine seniors, eight of them starters. The team was led by senior pitcher Alicia Portillo who finished the season 6-5 with an ERA of 1.15. Portillo started 10 games, completing nine of them with three shutouts. Portillo also led the team in several categories, including batting average (.506), hits (39), RBI (33) and home runs (6).

Other top hitters on the squad, Rani Gamboa and Ariel Ortega also graduated along with pitcher Andrea Wilson.

“He has great knowledge of the game,” said Javier Portillo, a former volunteer coach. “Whether it’s baseball or softball, he has done his homework and teaches the girls that.”

Portillo, or Coach J as the players call him, has been with some of the girls on the team as a coach since they began playing softball. His daughter Alicia was a team leader last season and junior outfielder Alicia is making big strides on the team.

“The amount of time Ansley sacrifices for the program is amazing,” Portillo said. “He does so much for these girls; they practice every day that there isn’t a game.”

Ansley is teaching the girls how to win, but he also is teaching them that life is more than softball; it is about life experiences and family. He strives to build a family atmosphere not only among the teammates but also within the community.

Rams SB“We lost nine seniors last year, eight of them were starters,” Ansley said. “At the start of the season, my only goal coming into the season was to be competitive.”

The 2014 team is proving they can compete and it is now time to make every coach’s goal – to make the playoffs and have a respectable run.

“There are no captains on the team,” Ansley said. “The seniors have risen to the top to take the lead.”

In the loss to Flowing Wells, the Rams were down 5-0 after the first inning but never gave up. The team came back and delivered three scoreless innings with only two base runners.

The final two innings of the game also showed the winning spirit that Ansley has instilled in these young women. When trailing 9-0, the Rams struck back with three stolen bases and an RBI single to spoil the shutout for Flowing Wells.

The next day playing Tucson’s Catalina Foothills High School was a different story.

The Rams hit the Falcons pitchers early and often and played a defensive gem with sophomore pitcher Amber Cramer taking a shutout into the seventh inning. The Rams would go on to win 6-1, splitting the Tucson series.

Fielding drills at Flowing Wells HS

Fielding drills at Flowing Wells HS

“Coach Ansley preaches a lot of repetition in practice,” said senior third baseman Made Byrd. “We do a lot of the same drills over and over again.”

Through the first nine games, Byrd paces the offense with a team-leading 19 hits, 14 RBI, 17 runs scored and a .633 batting average.

Fellow seniors, second baseman Chelsea Trejo and catcher Madi Moncel, are close behind Byrd with double-digit hits and runs scored.

“We are a much more aggressive team this year,” Moncel said. “Coach Ansley is extremely knowledgeable and offers up great constructive criticism.”

Trejo said she is pleasantly surprised at how well this team has come together.

“When we started this season, we had no idea how we were going to do,” she said. “Especially after the opening season tournament in Anthem. Now with our conditioning coach, positive motivation and constructive criticism from Ansley and all the coaches, we are really starting to grow as a team.”

Senior shortstop Rosie Naranjo said Ansley “has taught us to be leaders. … He has done so much for this team and spends so much time taking care of the program.”

Moncel adds: “You should see our field, it’s gorgeous. All that is due to Ansley, and we all respect him for all he does for us.”

Washington Baseball: Huskies Sweep Arizona; Extend Win Streak

Huskies-Scott Eklund-Red Box PicturesThe Washington baseball team is on a tear. Dating back to February 28, the Huskies (16-5-1, 5-1 Pac-12) have gone 13-1 including sweeps of UC Davis and Arizona. The Huskies’ lone loss in March came in the conference opener against Arizona State in Tempe, they went on to take the series. Since the March 14 loss, the Huskies have won six straight with three consecutive nail-biting one-run victories.

Washington opened the 2014 season in nearby Tacoma, Wash., playing in Cheney Stadium, the home of the AAA Tacoma Rainiers. The grand opening of Husky Stadium coincided with their conference opener, hosting the Arizona Wildcats last weekend. Amidst the pomp and circumstance of the unveiling of the $15 million ‘Diamond on Montlake,’ the Husky ballplayers dazzled as brightly as the stadium.>>>Read more on College Baseball Central

Pac-12 Softball: Bruins and Ducks Claim Top 2 Spots

Week SixNot a bad time for UCLA and Oregon this past week: Not only did the Bruins (28-2, 5-1 Pac-12) and the Ducks (26-3, 3-0 Pac-12) take the top two spots in the newest USA Today/NFCA rankings, but both teams had representatives for Pac-12 Pitcher and Player of the Week. Here’s how the Pac-12 fared in the latest release of the USA Today/NFCA Division I softball poll:

UCLA jumped into the top spot even with a loss to Washington on Sunday. The Bruins won the series with a 4-2 victory on Saturday and a 4-0 shutout on Monday in Seattle. Junior pitcher Ally Carda (17-1) was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week, her second of the year. In four games and 22 and 2/3 innings, Carda recorded 27 strikeouts, two wins and a save.

The Bruins host a doubleheader against UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday and welcome Utah (11-12, 1-4 Pac-12) for a three-game set this weekend.

Oregon moved into the No. 2 spot vacated by UCLA via its sweep of Utah in Salt Lake City over the weekend. Senior outfielder and Pac-12 Player of the Week Alexa Peterson electrified crowds and stymied Utah pitchers, going 6-for-7 against Utah. Her 13 RBI included two doubles, a triple and a grand slam home run in the first inning on Sunday.

Ducks ace pitcher Cheridan Hawkins (15-2) won on Saturday and Monday while Jasmine Smithson-Willett increased her win total to three. The Ducks travel to nearby Provo, Utah on Tuesday to play Southern Utah and BYU and will host Washington this weekend.

courtesy Washington Athletics

courtesy Washington Athletics

Despite losing two of three to the top-ranked Bruins, Washington remained at the No. 5 spot in the weekly rankings. The Huskies (21-7, 2-3 Pac-12) dominated the Bruins on the second game of the series with a 10-2 run-rule victory on Sunday. Pitcher Bryana Walker (13-3) went the distance, giving up only two hits and two runs while striking out seven.

The Huskies jumped all over Bruins starter Jessica Hall (9-1) with nine runs, who was pulled before recording an out. Next up for the Huskies is a top-five matchup in Eugene to take on the Ducks.

The Arizona Wildcats decimated the visiting Oregon State Beavers (11-17, 2-4 Pac-12) with three straight run-rule victories. The pollsters, however, didn’t think much of the feat as they dropped the Wildcats (28-6, 3-3 Pac-12) a spot to No. 8. Arizona now has won 19 straight games at home, with 16 of them being of the mercy-rule variety.

Arizona dominated the three-game series, outscoring the Beavers 36-2 overall. Arizona leads the NCAA with 54 home runs on the year, and junior catcher Chelsea Goodacre hit two home runs on Monday to bring her into a tie for most in the NCAA with 13. The Wildcats travel to Tempe this weekend to take on in-state rival Arizona State.

courtesy Arizona State Athletics

courtesy Arizona State Athletics

Arizona State swept the weekend series against Stanford and stayed put at No. 11 in the polls this week. A marathon nine-inning hit fest started the series on Saturday with the Sun Devils (30-5, 4-2) defeating the Cardinal 16-15. Dallas Escobedo (12-4) went 6.2 innings and advanced her record to 12-4. Second baseman Chelsea Gonzales paced the Devils on 3-of-6 hitting with three RBI, a home run and two runs scored while third baseman Haley Steele went 2-for-4, including a double and a home run to notch three RBI of her own.

Sunday’s matchup was an easy 9-0 run-rule victory for Mackenzie Popescue (15-1) as three Sun Devils homered in the third inning. Monday’s game had a flair for the dramatic with senior Cheyenne Coyle’s one-out, three-run, walk-off home run to secure the 7-5 victory. Pitcher Dallas Escobedo went the distance and earned her 13th victory of the season. The Sun Devils host the Wildcats this weekend in the Territorial Cup Series.

Stanford remained at the No. 24 spot in the polls despite being swept at ASU. The Cardinal (23-11, 1-5 Pac-12) scored 20 runs over the three-game stretch, including home runs from Kylie Sorenson and Erin Ashby on Saturday. Jessica Plaza homered on Sunday and Monday, but the Cardinal could not gain the elusive W in Tempe. Stanford will be absent from conference action this weekend with only one game at University of Pacific in Stockton, Calif., on Friday.

Arizona State Baseball: Sun Devils Take Series at No. 4 Oregon State

RJ Ybarra-ASU AthleticsArizona State baseball traveled to Corvallis, Ore., over the weekend to take on the No. 4 ranked Oregon State Beavers at Goss Stadium and walked out with a series victory. The Sun Devils (12-10, 3-3 Pac-12) rebounded from a difficult series home loss to Washington and defeated Oregon State (19-4, 4-2) in consecutive games over the weekend.

It was a reversal of sorts for the Arizona State pitching staff as staff ace Brett Lilek took the only loss of the weekend. Lilek (3-1) suffered his first loss of the season but delivered a formidable effort. Through four innings, Lilek surrendered only three hits and struck out six Beavers’ batters. In the final 3.1 innings, sophomore Eric Melbostad allowed only four hits and one additional run.>>>Read more on College Baseball Central

Maricopa High Rams take 2 of 3 from Tucson teams

Trejo Moncel Naranjo ByrdThe Maricopa High School baseball and softball teams played teams from Tucson this week and the Rams emerged victorious in two of the three contests.

The varsity baseball team (6-4) hosted the Flowing Wells Caballeros (0-10) on Wednesday beating them 10-6.

Senior pitcher Dillon Moran won his first game in three appearances allowing only four hits and two earned runs while delivering seven strikeouts in five innings pitched. Fellow senior Michael Gunter relieved Moran in the sixth inning and recorded his second save in as many appearances.

The Rams jumped all over Flowing Wells with two runs in the first inning and three more in the second.

BaseballThey would go scoreless in the third, but come roaring back with four runs in the fourth and one in the fifth.

Michael Gunter paced all batters, going 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Junior Nick Diaz also knocked in a 2-run home run and was hit by a pitch going 1-for-2. Senior Derik Johnson also finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored.

The Rams rallied whenever a batter hit the base path and left zero men stranded on base throughout the game.

Next up for the varsity squad is traveling to Tucson to take on Catalina Foothills (11-2, 5-0 home) Tuesday and then across town to take on Salpointe Catholic (6-1).

The varsity softball squad (8-5) traveled to Tucson and split a pair between Flowing Wells and Catalina Foothills high schools.

Wednesday afternoon’s game at Flowing Wells saw Rams’ starting pitcher Victoria Andrade give up five runs in the first inning before settling down and pitching four scoreless innings.

FieldingThe Rams opened up with a single by senior Madi Byrd but Madi Moncel’s come-backer to the pitcher was turned into a double play and the girls were shut down and the bats went silent until the sixth inning.

They executed a double steal and scored a run before two straight flyouts ended the rally and the inning. They would go on to give up three more runs in the sixth and lose 9-1.

Thursday’s game at Catalina Foothills was a complete 180 from the Wednesday’s game and spelled a big win for the Lady Rams.

The girls dominated the Falcons scoring two runs in the first inning and chasing the pitcher in the fourth inning. Sophomore pitcher Amber Cramer went the distance and took the win although she looked a little shaky in the bottom of the seventh giving up two runs.

The Rams broke their two-game losing streak with the 5-2 victory and are back home on Wednesday to take on Horizon Honors (2-5-1) out of north Phoenix and travel back to Tucson on Thursday to play Salpointe Catholic (4-5).

Pac-12 Baseball: Oregon State Beavers Continue Dominance

Ben Wetzler-courtesy Dave NishitaniThe opening weekend of Pac-12 baseball is in the books and once again, Oregon State is looking unstoppable. The Beavers (18-3, 3-0 Pac-12) traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah and left with a sweep of the Utes. Oregon State pitchers allowed only two runs and 15 hits over the three-games series and junior left-handed pitcher Jace Fry notched his fourth win on the season, his fifth complete game with four of them being shutouts.

This is the third consecutive season that the Beavers have opened conference play with a sweep of its opponents—all on the road. The Beavers were fueled by the big bat of junior outfielder Michael Conforto who was 5-for-10 with four RBI and four runs scored.>>>Read more on College Baseball Central

Pac-12 Softball: UCLA Continues to Dominate in Conference Play

UCLA SlamConference play began last weekend and No. 2 UCLA put on exclamation point on Sunday’s game against No. 7 Arizona with a walk-off grand slam by junior Gracie Goulder. The Bruins swept the Wildcats and took sole possession of first place in the Conference.

The latest USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll was released on Tuesday and here is how the teams fared over the week.

The Bruins (26-1, 3-0 Pac-12) jumped a spot to No. 2 and also collected nine first-place votes from the panel. UCLA swept then No. 6 Arizona, with two shutouts and outscoring the Wildcats 11-4. Junior pitcher Ally Carda (15-1) started on Saturday afternoon and came in for relief of Jessica Hall on Sunday afternoon and Monday night.

Carda walked away with two wins and a save in 12.2 innings, delivering 12 strikeouts and surrendering only six hits. Sophomore infielder Mysha Sataraka was voted Pac-12 Player of the Week after her 5-of-7 performance including her eighth home run.

Oregon (23-3) was the odd team out for opening conference play and their consolation prize was a trip to Hawaii to participate in the Rainbow Wahine Classic. The No. 3 Ducks won the first five games of the four-game tournament but dropped the championship game to James Madison, 3-0.

Alyssa Gillespie Photo: Geoff Thurmer

Alyssa Gillespie
Photo: Geoff Thurmer

The loss allowed the Bruins to leap-frog the Ducks and take over the No. 2 spot. Sophomore outfielder Alyssa Gillespie was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament while sophomore left-handed pitcher Cheridan Hawkins was name Co-Most Valuable Pitcher. The Ducks travel to Salt Lake City to begin conference play this weekend against the Utes.

Washington (20-4, 1-1 Pac-12) stayed put at No. 5 in the rankings after splitting a pair against Utah. Sunday’s matchup was rained out and no makeup game has yet to be scheduled. The Huskies’ star pitcher Bryana Walker (12-3) pitched six innings on Friday giving up two runs on four hits.

Junior third baseman Kylee Lahners went 2-for-3 with her 10th home run of the season. Walker would take the loss on Saturday after relieving Kaitlin Inglesby in an extra-inning matchup.

Arizona (23-6, 0-3 Pac-12) lost three games over the weekend but only fell one spot to No. 7 as they were swept by a tough UCLA team. The ‘Cats played the Bruins close losing a pair of pitchers’ duels, 1-0 and 2-0 on Saturday and Monday.

Arizona led on Sunday 4-3 going into the final three outs of the game before giving up five runs. Estela Pinon (6-3) gave up only five hits and one run on Saturday and Kenzie Fowler (3-2) surrendered two hits and two runs in her complete game on Monday.

The Arizona State Sun Devils (27-5, 1-2 Pac-12) tumbled four spots to No. 11 after losing two of three to Oregon State in Corvallis over the weekend. Beavers’ senior pitcher Amanda Najdek (7-8) dominated the Sun Devils in two complete games on Friday and Sunday. Sun Devil pitcher Dallas Escobedo (11-4) took both losses.

Mackenzie Popescue Photo: ASU Athletics

Mackenzie Popescue
Photo: ASU Athletics

Mackenzie Popescue (14-1) was once again unstoppable in the circle pitching five runs of shutout baseball allowing only two hits in the run-rule, 11-0 victory. Alix Johnson and Bethany Kemp both homered in the fifth inning to end the game.

Stanford (23-8, 1-2 Pac-12) also had a tough weekend dropping two of three to California at home. The Cardinal fell three spots to No. 24 and will face Arizona State this weekend in Tempe, hoping to climb back up the polls.

The Bears and Cardinal put on a hitting clinic in the opener with Stanford winning 14-13. The Bears led 9-8 heading in to the final inning and scored four more before Stanford scored six to end the game. The Cardinal were outscored 13-6 in the next two games suffering two straight losses.

Cal Poly Baseball: Mustangs Break Top 10 in National Polls

Matt ImhofNo need to sound the alarm. A Big West school team not named Cal State Fullerton has broken into the top 10 of four major national polls and 11 in another. The Cal Poly Mustangs (17-3) are ranked as high as No. 6 by Perfect Game while Baseball America bumped the Mustangs four spots to No. 7. Collegiate Baseball and the National College Baseball Writers of America both rank Cal Poly at No. 10, an increase of two spots in both polls.

The Mustangs jumped four spots in the USA Today/Coaches Poll to a No. 11 ranking and we here at College Baseball Central rank Cal Poly at No. 8 , a three spot jump.>>>Read more on College Baseball Central

MHS Baseball Split Pair on Road; Softball Suffers Home Loss

MHS Base

The varsity baseball team has spent a lot of time away from the home field of Maricopa High School and is faring quite well as the visiting team. The Rams (5-4) are 4-2 in true away games and 1-1 at neutral sites.

Coach Andrew Pollak’s squad traveled to Mesa High School to take on the Jackrabbits (4-6) and walked away with a 3-2 win for a second straight victory. Senior pitcher Tristan Hartley (2-1) hurled five shutout innings fanning six batters and allowing one hit.

Hartley was relieved by fellow senior Michael Gunter who was solid in the sixth inning but allowed Mesa to mount a comeback scoring twice on two hits and a walk. Hartley would earn the win and Gunter notched the save, his first of the season.

Hartley and Gunter also provided two of the Rams five hits on offense with Gunter delivering the Rams’ only extra base hit. Gunter also stole a base, his third of the season and scored a run, bringing his season total to five runs.

The Rams put their two-game win streak on the line when they traveled to Tempe to take on the Marcos de Niza Padres Monday night. Senior left-handed pitcher Dallas Speer (3-1) took the mound against Marcos and delivered eight strikeouts in 4.2 innings. However, his five walks, three hits and two runs surrendered earned him his first loss of the season.

Hartley relieved Speer and gave up four hits and three runs, all earned, in the final 1.1 innings as the Padres’ starting pitcher Craig Knoche went the distance with the complete game shutout.

Photo courtesy of Sam Dugan

Photo courtesy of Sam Dugan

The Rams hit Knoche well but were not able to transform those hits into runs. Senior Dillon Moran rebounded from a 0-for-3 performance against Mesa with perfect 3-for-3 batting. Five other players recorded hits in the game.

The varsity team will play at home Thursday for only its second game this season when it takes on Flowing Wells High School from Tucson. The Caballeros are winless in its first eight games this season.

Fresh off a six-game win streak, the varsity softball team was riding high. The Lady Rams had a nine-day break after winning the Krystin Diehl Tournament and hosted the Marcos de Niza Padres Monday night.

Rest vs. rust came into play and the Rams (7-4) gave up five runs in the fourth inning and fell to the Padres (7-7) by the count of 8-2. The softball team travels to Tucson this week to take on Flowing Wells High School Wednesday and Catalina Foothills High Thursday. The FWHS Caballeros (6-6) are 1-2 at home and the CFHS Falcons (5-8) are 3-4 at home.

Through 10 games this season, senior Madison Byrd leads the Rams with 19 hits including seven doubles and two triples. Byrd also leads with 19 runs and 14 RBIs.