Category: Arizona

Maricopa High School Scores Big With New Football Coach Chris McDonald

Gold Ball

As we look back and bid a fond farewell to the 2013-14 school year, congratulating the 2014 senior class; school administrators are looking to the future. In the regular meeting in February, the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board approved the hiring of longtime Hamilton High School assistant football coach Chris McDonald to lead the Rams’ varsity squad.

The vacancy left behind by departing head football coach and athletic director Cory Nenaber, also opened up the opportunity to bring in a new athletic director. Mark Cisterna comes to Maricopa after a dozen years as an athletic director with the Gilbert and Apache Junction school districts. Cisterna will head up the athletic programs at all three schools in Maricopa including Maricopa Wells and Desert Wind Middle Schools.

Head football coach McDonald also brings a desire to teach and lead. McDonald received his certification to teach secondary mathematics and taught Algebra and Geometry while at Hamilton receiving the “highly qualified” designation. McDonald also recently received his Master’s degree in Education Leadership.

Head coach Chris McDonald

Head coach Chris McDonald

McDonald, a longtime Tempe resident, a three-sport athlete that excelled in football, basketball and track graduated from Corona Del Sol in 1998, went on to run track and play football at Mesa Community College before graduating from Arizona State University in 2002.

McDonald told InMaricopa that he would not be moving to Maricopa as of now.

“My family and I currently in the Ocotillo/Chandler area so it really only takes 20-25 minutes to get here which really isn’t a big deal at all,” he said. “In fact, I kind of like the drive as it gives me time to reflect on what I need to get done that day.”

McDonald brings a deft football pedigree, during his eight year tenure at Hamilton High School as an assistant coach, the Huskies have advanced to the State Championship at the most competitive level, six times—and walked away with the Championship on five of those trips.

Five Division I State Championship titles in eight years is an amazing feat and Highland head coach Steve Belles is highly revered with a 70-3 record in his eight years at the helm. McDonald was fortunate enough to join the coaching squad with Belles and only knows how to win.

“I am quite honored and excited to be a part of the Maricopa community,” McDonald said. “I look forward to building upon a solid foundation and create another asset to the school and community with our football program here at Maricopa High School.”

McDonald says that the biggest difference between Hamilton and Maricopa is the commitment and culture. “The culture over there has trickled down into the youth level and expectations are kind of built in at an early age,” McDonald told me. “I think over time my goal is to implement that type of attitude and culture here in the Maricopa community.”

Rams LogoMcDonald is selling a new level of commitment and a swift change in the culture while still building on the momentum that Coach Nenaber and his staff had over the past decade. The change in culture will not only come on the football field, but in the classroom and throughout the community as well.

“If we can get ALL players to buy into what we are preaching in terms of giving maximum effort not only on the football field, but in the classroom and community then I think we’re going to be a pretty good football team.”

McDonald knows what it takes to get there and will strive to make this team the best that it can be.

“I think my experiences at Hamilton have allowed me to see first-hand the level of commitment and organization needed to be at the top of the mountain when the season ends,” McDonald said. “Everything takes time and we have a long ways to go but I think the potential to reach the pinnacle is attainable here.”

After a 2013 season that saw the Rams go undefeated at home but winless on the road, I would say that Coach McDonald has his work cut out for him. Thankfully, he has the right attitude, level of commitment and desire to make this Rams’ football program better than anybody ever realized.

“These kids need to understand what it truly takes to hold up a gold ball at the end of a season.”

Maricopa High School Spring 2014 Sports Wrap-Up

Spring WrapSchool is out and the long, hot summer is upon us. The Maricopa Unified School District welcomes two new members to its ranks with Athletic Director Mark Cisterna and head football coach Chris McDonald.

McDonald joins a relatively new batch of head coaches at Maricopa High School with Andrew Pollak finishing his first year at the helm of the baseball team and Chris Ansley heading up the softball team for his fourth season.

Pollak’s baseball team started off the season well. Winners of six of their first ten games, the Rams looked to put to rest any questions about the team’s inability to stay competitive. Senior pitcher Dallas Speer was 3-1 and Tristan Hartley was 2-1 in that time frame and the future looked bright for the Rams.

Unfortunately, Maricopa would hit hard times and would only grab two more wins throughout the year to finish 8-17 overall with a 2-9 section record. It wasn’t all bad news for Coach Pollak and the varsity baseball squad as the February 27 game vs. the Arizona Charter Academy set the record for highest single-game on-base percentage (.733), in program history.

Dallas Speer

Dallas Speer

Even in the March 25 defeat at Catalina Foothills, the Rams tied the program record with fewest strikeouts (0) in a game.

Sophomore Tyler Rapp led all batters (15 + appearances) with a .323 batting average and paced the team with 19 runs scored. Junior Nick Diaz led the team with 12 RBI, three home runs, and was tied for the team lead in triples (1) and hits (21).

Senior Tristan Hartley shared the team lead for hits and led the Rams with two doubles Senior Noah Anderson tied for the team lead in triples.

Of the 11 teams in division II, section six, three players earned postseason accolades. Diaz was named to the 2nd team while Hartley and Rapp were selected as honorable mentions.

The softball team had a bit of a bumpy start to the 2014 season, losing three of its first four games including a 25-0 loss to Xavier Preparatory. Ansley’s squad would turn the season around when they hosted the annual Krystin Diehl Tournament, winning six straight and outscoring opponents 52-4 to take home the trophy.

The Lady Rams would split the next eight games with big wins over Horizon Honors, Seton Catholic and Coronado, scoring double digits but also suffering tough losses to Flowing Wells and Salpointe Catholic, both in Tucson.

A late season swoon doomed the softball team as they dropped their final nine games of the season. Heartbreaking losses to Cibola (12-10) and Poston Butte (8-6) ended the season and the Rams finished 11-16 overall, 1-8 in section.

Chelsea Trejo & Madi Moncel w/ Coach Ansley

Chelsea Trejo & Madi Moncel w/ Coach Ansley

Sophomore pitcher Yasmin Santa Cruz finished the season 3-1 with 3.75 ERA while fellow sophomore Amber Cramer ended up with a 4-3 record and a 3.85 ERA. Junior Victoria Andrade led all pitchers with 49 strikeouts.

On the offensive side of the ball, senior catcher Madison Moncel fueled the Rams with a monstrous .436 batting average and 34 hits. Moncel was tied for the team lead with 26 runs and three triples.

Keeping up with Moncel in runs was senior Chelsea Trejo while senior Madison Byrd and junior Shay Barney were tied in the triples category. Junior Isabel McCloskey powered the team with 35 RBI and nine doubles.

Moncel signed her letter of intent earlier this year and will be heading to Colby Community College in northwest Kansas. The educational futures for the outgoing seniors of Maricopa baseball and softball players are promising even without athletic scholarships.

When asked of Moncel if she knew of any players going off to college, Moncel replied “Yeah, actually, a lot of them. Mainly all of the baseball/softball players.”

Regardless of what the final records were, I would say that both coaches could be considered a success with all graduating seniors going off to college.

Ameri-CAN Canned Craft Beer Festival This Saturday in Scottsdale

AmeriCAN1SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Crack open a frosty beer and celebrate with a thousand of your closest friends at the Scottsdale Civic Center on Saturday.

Professionally produced by HDE Agency in partnership with SanTan Brewing Company, the Fourth Annual Ameri-CAN Canned Craft Beer Festival returns to Scottsdale and is stronger than ever.

General admission tickets are $35 each and include admission, a souvenir can and 20 four-ounce pours. VIP tickets are available through presale purchase only for $100. VIP tickets include admission one hour early, a souvenir can, 20 four-ounce pours, catered food, a private VIP zone with private restrooms and exclusive specialty beer sampling.

Gates open at noon for VIP ticket holders and 1 p.m. for general admission. There will be live music from Sugar Thieves, Dry River Yacht Club and Take Cover with DJ Slippe spinning tracks in between sets. There will also be food trucks on site including Mustache Pretzels and The Grilled Cheese Truck. The festival goes until 6 p.m. with last pour usually around 5:30 to 5:45 p.m.


You can enjoy these beers on Saturday

There will also be a beer science garden as well as a Beer Olympics featuring fun and games including beer pong and bean-bag toss or “cornhole.”

The 2014 festival will feature more than 80 national breweries will offer over 250 beers in their humblest form—the can. The festival is the brain child of SanTan Brewing Co. owner and brewmaster, Anthony Canecchia.

SanTan Brewing began canning their beer in 2009 and by 2010, with very few brewers caning their beers, Canecchia thought it would be a great idea to showcase the can.

“Four years ago, cans were still looked down upon,” said Canecchia. “The stigma came from the idea that cans give beer a metallic taste, but that’s not true. The FDA requires a water-based polymer coating that prevents any liquid from coming in contact with metal and giving it an acrid taste.”

If you have ever heard the adage, “the darker the bottle, the higher quality the beer,” you can take that to the next level with cans. No light whatsoever, gets through an aluminum can, thus preserving the beer quality and providing a longer shelf life than the traditional bottle.

Seven local Arizona breweries will be in attendance with national representation from Alaskan Brewing Co. in Juneau, Alaska to Woodchuck Hard Cider in Middlebury, Vt., with many stops in between including Tallgrass Brewing from Manhattan, Kan., Nola Brewing from New Orleans, La., and Founders Brewing from Grand Rapids, Mich.


CAN you drink them all?

Arizona suds seekers will be treated to some rare beers that are hardly, if ever, found in Arizona. Australian Brewery from Sydney will also offer up their take on canned craft beer while early trendsetters in the microbrew movement, Samuel Adams and Sierra Nevada will have their beers available in cans.

The festival coincides with the national American Craft Beer Week which is celebrated May 12-18. According to the Brewers Association, there are currently more than 2,800 small and independent craft breweries and hundreds more popping up across the country every year.

“American Craft Beer Week allows everyone to honor and toast the hard work and success of the craft beer community,” said Julia Herz, publisher of and craft beer program director at the Brewers Association. “Against many odds, craft brewers have used grassroots efforts to grow the industry one glass, one bottle, one can, one keg, one growler and one customer at a time.”

The festival will not only offer a respite from a hot day, it will also support the community. HDE Agency’s Jen Pruett says “a portion of event proceeds will benefit the Scottsdale Cultural Council and the American Foundation for Cardiomyopathy.”

Great beer doing good, that’s a cause that we can all get behind.

Details: 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Saturday May 17. Scottsdale Civic Center, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. $35-$100.

Maricopa Rams’ baseball ends season on high note

Karyn Speer Photo

MARICOPA, Ariz. —  The Maricopa High School baseball program struggled in the final month of the season, losing nine straight. However, the Rams took the final game with an 8-4 win over Poston Butte High in SanTan Valley last Wednesday.

Sophomore Tyler Rapp paced the Rams, hitting 3-of-4 with an RBI, a stolen base and two runs scored.

Senior pitcher Dillon Moran pitched six innings of six-hit baseball, issuing four strikeouts and allowing only three earned runs to pick up his second win of the season.

Senior Tristan Hartley pitched an artful inning of relief, retiring the Broncos in order in the seventh.

The Rams would finish the season 8-17 overall and 2-9 in section play. Coach Andrew Pollak’s squad only managed two wins at home.

Dallas Speer

Dallas Speer

Final season stats show that senior Bernardo Juarez led all batters with a .364 batting average. Tyler Rapp’s .323 average was the best among players with a minimum of 50 at-bats. Rapp led the team with 19 runs scored.

Junior Nick Diaz was the star from the plate and was the only player to record a home run this season, and he did it three times. Diaz also paced the team with 12 RBIs and was tied for most triples (1) and total hits (21) with seniors Noah Anderson and Hartley, respectively.

Senior pitchers Moran, Hartley and Dallas Speer were the heart of the Rams’ pitching staff. Speer led all pitchers with 57 strikeouts while Hartley issued the fewest walks among the three with 19. Speer allowed the fewest hits (37) while Hartley allowed the fewest earned runs (21).

Rapp and freshman Jackson Stensgard are the only returning pitchers with seven pitchers graduating this month.

Softball recap

The varsity softball team was not as fortunate, finishing the season on a nine-game losing streak, including the final two at home. The Lady Rams took a 4-0 lead into the fifth inning over Poston Butte last Wednesday but allowed three runs in the fifth and five in the sixth before falling 8-6 at home.

Coach Chris Ansley’s squad finished the season 11-16 overall and 1-8 in section. The Rams were 7-9 at home including a 6-0 sweep of the Krystin Diehl Softball Tournament and 4-7 away from home.

Through 25 of 27 games, senior catcher Madi Moncel led the Rams with a .437 batting average, 31 hits and was tied with junior Shay Barney with three triples.

Chelsea Trejo & Madi Moncel

Chelsea Trejo & Madi Moncel

Senior third baseman Madi Byrd tied for most doubles (8) and home runs (1) with junior Isabel McCloskey. Freshman Kayla Martinez knocked in a home run this season.

McClosley was an RBI machine with 31 RBIs in 25 games, averaging 1.24 RBI per game.

Senior second baseman Chelsea Trejo led the Lady Rams with 24 runs scored and was also tied for most doubles with Byrd and McCloskey.

The pitching rotation of junior Victoria Andrade and sophomores Amber Cramer and Yasmin Santa Cruz will all return next season and will look to lead the team to the playoffs.

Andrade was the team workhorse, starting 14 of 25 games. Andrade fanned 47 batters while surrendering only 23 walks. Cramer, in her seven starts and 11 total appearances garnered four wins and struck out 20 batters while only walking five.

The heart of the varsity softball team could be difficult to replace, losing seniors Moncel, Trejo and Rosie Naranjo. McCloskey, Barney, along with Sam Dugan and Alison Korittky, are likely the team leaders in the 2015 season.

Rams’ baseball, softball seasons come to a close

MHS Base

The Maricopa High School varsity baseball and softball teams have hit a wall.

After great starts from the boys (5-3) and girls (7-3), the teams have only one win apiece since April began. Both teams will miss out on the state playoffs and will try to end the season on a high note.

The baseball team will play its final home game under the “Friday Night Lights” and will honor the seniors in a pre-game ceremony at 6:30 p.m. with first pitch at 7 p.m.

Dallas Speer

Dallas Speer

The opponent will be Valley Christian High School from Chandler. The Trojans are from a lower division based on school population but look to be heading to the Division III playoffs with a 12-9 overall record and 6-3 in section 4.

Twelve seniors will be honored on Friday night including team batting-average leaders Noah Anderson (.333) and Tristan Hartley (.308). Bernardo Juarez, who is tied for the team’s best fielding percentage (1.000) will also be honored.

The biggest hit will be in the pitching rotation with starters Dallas Speer, Dillon Moran and the aforementioned Hartley bidding farewell to the red and black. Senior reliever Michael Gunter had a season-ending surgery on Monday; he is at home recovering and will likely miss the ceremony.

Jesus Orci-Vega, Michael Ashe, Derik Johnson, Eduardo Martinez, JJ Salaz and Colton Rosales will be honored as well.

Following Friday night’s game, the Rams travel to Yuma to take on Cibola High (5-12, 4-8 section 7) on Monday at 4 p.m. and then finish the season in San Tan Valley at Poston Butte High School at 6 p.m. The Broncos are 8-14 overall and 3-5 in section 6.

Seniors Trejo, Moncel, Naranjo & Byrd

Seniors Trejo, Moncel, Naranjo & Byrd

The softball team traveled to Tucson to take on the top two teams in the section and was dismissed unceremoniously in back-to-back, run-rule games. The girls will play their final two games at home hosting Cibola (13-10, 8-4 section) at 4 p.m. and Poston Butte (3-24, 1-6 section) on Wednesday night at 6 p.m.

The softball team will bid adieu to several starters including the heart of the team in catcher Madi Moncel, second baseman Chelsea Trejo and third baseman Madi Byrd.

Moncel leads the team in batting average (.456) and hits (31), while tied with the team lead for triples (3) and home runs (1). Trejo is team leader in runs scored (24) and tied for team lead with eight doubles also places second in batting average at (.412) and hits with 28.

Moncel signed a letter of intent in February to play at Colby Community College, a two-year college in Kansas. She previously told that if things go well in Kansas, she hopes to go to the University of Illinois to play ball.

Byrd closely follows Moncel and Trejo with a .397 batting average, 27 hits, 23 runs scored and is tied for Trejo with eight doubles and tied with Moncel with a home run.

Shortstop Rosie Naranjo, a 21-game starter will also finish her season along with outfielder Kaylee Darnall and utility player Sydnee Akers.

Pat’s Run Commemorates 10 Years of Honor and Service

PatsRun1TEMPE, Ariz. — It was 10 years ago today that we lost a true American hero in Pat Tillman.

Today, the foundation named in his honor hosts the annual Pat’s Run this weekend in Tempe, Ariz., and over 34 locations nationwide in shadow and troop runs. The 4.2-mile Run/Walk is named for, and held in memory of former Arizona State and Arizona Cardinal football player Pat Tillman.

In its 10th year, the Foundation looks to raise more scholarship funds than ever before for Tillman Military Scholars. The scholars are former military members or spouses that are “The best-poised leaders, who show strength in character, academic excellence and incredible potential,” according to the foundation website.

Amazing stories are abound from all the military scholars from the first class in 2009 to the current class. From the inspiring story of Air Force Captain Ed Woodward’s path through medical school to an American Muslim born to Lebanese immigrants in Army Captain Khalil Tawil studying for his Master’s of Business Administration at Harvard, there is no shortage of courage, honor or hardship among the scholars.

tillmanSince the program’s inception, the Foundation has invested $4.6 million in scholarships for students that build on Tillman’s legacy, principles and commitment to service. Tillman earned his B.S. in Marketing, graduating Summa Cum Laude from the W.P. Carey School of Business in just three and a half years.

Tillman was a three-year consecutive selection to the Pac-10 All-Academic Team and also received the NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship for academic and athletic excellence. He was later drafted in the seventh round along with teammate Jake Plummer by the Arizona Cardinals and was considered a long shot to make the roster.

Not only did Tillman make the roster, he was named the starting safety and broke the franchise record for tackles in 2000, all while studying to get his Master’s degree in history from his beloved Arizona State. Much has been said, and unsaid, about the tragic incident wherein Tillman died in Afghanistan, but all that truly matters is that Tillman was due a big payday from the Arizona Cardinals, yet he chose to put his football career and the $3.6 million contract that went with it, on hold while he enlisted in the U.S. Army with his brother, Kevin

The run itself has become one of the more popular runs with over 30,000 participants nationwide, including over 23,000 in the Tempe race alone. The race begins on Packard Drive, just south of Rio Salado Parkway and winds through northern Tempe, crossing the Tempe Town Lake and ends inside Sun Devil Stadium at the 42-yard line, Tillman’s number while at Arizona State.

Pats_Run_mapOnline registration is now closed but those looking to run or walk to honor Tillman can still register at the north end of Sun Devil Stadium. The same area will be used for race packet pick-up from from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday.

All participants must pick up their race packet and bib by Friday, no race day registration will be held.

The event begins bright and early at 6 a.m. on Saturday, when the Finish Line Expo opens with entertainment, refreshments, an interactive Kids’ Corner with several vendor booths.

The Race Chair Start is at 7 a.m. and the 4.2 mile run begins at 7:05 a.m. The Kid’s Run is .42 miles long and starts at 9:45 a.m.

All registered participants  will receive a Dri-fit race shirt, a race number and timing tag, along with a virtual goodie bag. New this year, participants can upgrade their experience to receive an additional 10-year anniversary t-shirt, decal, performance socks and visor.

For those that want to honor Tillman and cannot make it to Tempe for the race, the race shirt, 10th anniversary shirt along with other merchandise can be purchased online here. Shadow runs span the country from Seattle to Atlanta and San Diego to New York City, for a list of shadow runs sponsored by Arizona State Alumni chapters, visit the website here.



Rams baseball out of playoff contention; tough road for softball

BaseballThe Maricopa High School baseball and softball teams returned to the diamond Thursday with more than winning on their minds. The teams have both struggled of late and with only one section win apiece, their playoff hopes are quickly fading.

The Division II playoffs begin May 3 with the top team in each of the seven sections receiving an automatic bid. The bracket’s remaining 17 at-large bids will be given to the teams with the best overall ranking.

Division II in baseball has a total of 77 teams with seven sections of 11 teams each. The Rams (7-13, 1-7) are currently in 10th place in the section with five games remaining. Winning out against the remaining teams will provide great morale moving into the future but the state playoffs are out of reach for Coach Andrew Pollak’s squad.

The Rams lost a heartbreaking 7-6 game to South Mountain in Phoenix Thursday and are back home for their final home stretch. Maricopa faces section foe, Canyon del Oro from Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. The Dorados (15-5, 4-2 section VI) are currently in third place in section VI and 17th in Division II overall.

The final two home games will be held on Thursday and Friday hosting Ironwood Ridge (13-11, 4-4 section VI) from Tucson at 3:45 p.m. and Division III’s Valley Christian High (10-8, 5-2 section IV), under the Friday night lights at 7 p.m.

Rams SBDivision II in softball has 73 teams and section VI includes 17 teams. The Rams (11-11, 1-5 section VI) need to win the final five games of the season to move into discussions about receiving an at-large bid.

Coach Chris Ansley’s team is currently ranked at No. 30 overall in Division II and wins over three of the section’s top five teams will go a long way to convince the selection committee.

The final road top of the season sees the Rams travel to Tucson twice in the coming week. On Tuesday, it visits Canyon del Oro (17-6, 6-0 section VI) and Ironwood Ridge (20-7, 7-1 section VI) on Thursday. First pitch for both games will be 4 p.m.

Canyon del Oro has won 10 straight games and Ironwood Ridge is undefeated at home. Next week’s games are more than important – they are a necessity.

The regular season for the Rams ends at home with games April 28 and April 30. Cibola (12-8, 7-2 section VI) visits on April 28 at 4 p.m. and is in the same boat as Maricopa. It is on the fringes of the playoffs needing big wins to finish the season. Poston Butte (2-22, 1-5 section VI) from San Tan Valley is just hoping to be competitive in the 6 p.m. game on April 30.

Matt Huffman Community Night at the Ballpark on deck Wednesday

Batting PracticeThe Maricopa Rams Home Run Booster Club will be hosting Matt Huffman Community Night at the Ballpark Wednesday when both varsity softball and baseball teams host the Casa Grande Cougars.

Huffman, the former Maricopa High senior who was headed to Indiana State University on both an academic and athletic scholarship for baseball died while running in January 2002. The field where the baseball team plays, which opened in 2010, was re-dedicated to Huffman where his name and legacy will continue to inspire.

The event is open to the community. Youth are encouraged to wear their uniforms or school spirit to school to show their support of Rams’ athletics.

The first game of the day will be at 3:45 p.m. when the junior varsity baseball team hosts the Casa Grande JV squad. The varsity teams will take the field at 6 p.m. with several events prior to the first pitch.

Every student in attendance will receive a raffle ticket with several prizes available including two 7-inch Android tablets, iTunes gift cards, a summer splash basket of goodies and gift cards from Yogurt Jungle among the giveaways.

Photo courtesy of Sam Dugan

Photo courtesy of Sam Dugan

Each team will honor the teachers that have made a difference in their education at 5:30 p.m. and two lucky youths will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for both games at 5:55 p.m.

The rivalry between the Rams and Cougars is an intense one with the Rams leading the Cougars in all sports, 21-17-1 since the 2007 season. The Rams have won the past four events against Casa Grande including baseball in April, boys and girls soccer in January and girls basketball in December.

The softball team is coming off their biggest win of the season when it defeated Coronado High School in Scottsdale on Monday night, 21-3. The Lady Rams improved to 11-7 and 1-2 in section standings.

The Casa Grande Cougars (10-10, 0-4 section VI) are in the midst of a rollercoaster season coming into the game on a five-game losing streak when they had won the seven games prior.

The Lady Rams are led by sophomore pitcher Amber Cramer’s section-leading 1.48 ERA with junior Victoria Andrade currently in the No. 5 spot at 2.45. On the offensive side of the ball, junior first baseman Isabel McCloskey is tied for the most RBI with 25, while senior third baseman, Madi Byrd ranks fifth in runs scored with 22.

Next up for the Rams is traveling to Vista Grande (11-6, 2-2 section VI) in Casa Grande on Friday at 6 p.m. and hosting Williams Field (9-4, 4-4 section IV) from Gilbert on Monday.

photo courtesy of Karyn Sather Speer

photo courtesy of Karyn Sather Speer

The baseball squad snapped its four-game losing streak when it defeated Coronado 7-5 on Monday afternoon at Huffman Field. Senior pitcher Tristan Hartley went the distance pitching his first complete game of the season and improved his record to 3-1. Hartley fanned eight batters while only giving up seven hits and three earned runs. From the plate, Hartley went 1-of-3 with a walk and two stolen bases that led to scoring two runs.

The Rams trailed 4-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning but rallied to score five runs in the fifth and added two more in the sixth. While the Rams only totaled three hits on the game, the Dons’ pitching staff issued six walks and allowed six more to reach on error.

Senior pitcher Dallas Speer is the projected starter against Casa Grande (7-9-1, 2-2 section VI) and currently is tied for the lead in Section VI with 43 strikeouts on the season. The Cougars baseball team also enters the game on a losing streak of their own; it has lost the last two games and three of its past six.

Next up for the baseball team is hosting the Vista Grande Spartans (5-12, 1-4 section VI) on Friday at 3:45 p.m. and traveling to Williams Field High School (11-7, 7-0 section IV) on Monday, also at 3:45 p.m.

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.”