Category: Tucson Sports

Battle For The Territorial Cup At Highest Level in Years

TEMPE – The 92nd meeting between Arizona and Arizona State heads for the gridiron this Saturday and supporters of both schools couldn’t be more pleased.

In a year when both schools were predicted to finish at the bottom of the Pac-12 South Division, they are now playing for a second place finish behind the University of Southern California. Depending on what part of the state you were in, the opinions varied on who would claim the cellar, yet neither fan base had much hope for even becoming bowl eligible this season.

The Wildcats started the season with Brandon Dawkins under center. Dawkins struggled in the opener against in-state FCS opponent Northern Arizona University, putting up a paltry 7-of-13 for 89 yards and one touchdown pass.

Is Tate the Cure-All for the Wildcats?

Head coach Rich Rodriguez’s squad would go on to lose two of the next three at home to Houston and Utah before opting to shake things up at the quarterback position. Enter sophomore Khalil Tate, and the rest they say, is history.

Tate rushed for 327 yards and four touchdowns while throwing for another 142 yards and a touchdown against Colorado sparking a huge four-game win streak with Tate ripping off big runs and scoring almost at will. During the stretch, Tate piled up all the accolades thanks to his five passing and four rushing touchdowns.

Over the past three weeks, the ‘Cats and Tate hit a roadblock losing two of three with their only victory being over a one-win Oregon State team.

The scene in Tempe was much more bleak at the start of the 2017 season. The Sun Devils were coming off their worst season of the Pac-12 era where they literally gave up in the final game of the 2016 season surrendering 56 points in Tucson.

The writing was on the wall for the Sun Devils and head coach Todd Graham – this was unacceptable.

Armed with a healthy quarterback in Manny Wilkins, a five-star backup quarterback who started for Alabama last year and a new coordinator on each side of the ball, the Sun Devils looked ready to compete.

Until the season started.

The Sun Devils were embarrassed in their home opener by nearly losing to New Mexico State and going on to lose the next two non-conference games to San Diego State and Texas Tech.

All was not well in Tempe and losses in what was supposed to be the easy part of the schedule looked to be a harbinger of things to come with conference play looming large.

N’Keal Harry Doing Great Things

Conference play for the Sun Devils was a gauntlet facing three ranked teams at home including Oregon, Washington and USC along with two tough road games at always-tough Stanford and Utah.

Nobody in their right mind could have predicted that the Devils would go on to beat then-No. 24 Oregon or then-No. 5 Washington, but the defense stepped up big…I mean huge. They were close wins, but they were wins—against ranked teams and the Sun Devil faithful believed once again.

The road games against Stanford, Utah, UCLA and Oregon St. were a literal “Tale of Two Devil Teams.”

After beating Oregon at home, Graham took his team on the road to face Heisman Trophy finalist running back Bryce Love and the Stanford Cardinal. Love, the former track and field speedster proved why he was a front-runner shredding the Sun Devil defense for 301 yards and three touchdowns.

Following the Washington win, the Devils put on a defensive clinic at Rice-Eccles Stadium holding the Utah Utes to three points for the first 57 minutes of the game. The road woes came back to haunt the Devils losing in embarrassing fashion to a hapless UCLA team. True to form, the following road game showed the offensive firepower of Manny Wilkins by scoring the first 30 points against Oregon State.

The momentum coming into the game is definitely on the side of the Sun Devils who have won two of their last three with the Wildcats losing two of three. All bets are off, however, when it comes to a rivalry game.


The Greatest Picture of all Time

Most odds-makers have this game as a ‘pick-em’ meaning there is no clear favorite so bet accordingly. Here are a couple nuggets that will make this game all the more exciting.

  • The team with the worse record has won 13 times since 1979, ASU was nationally ranked four times during that span and lost to Arizona. Arizona was nationally ranked once and lost to ASU 7-6 in 1992.
  • The team with the worse record has won five of the last seven years.
  • The home team has won the past four years and 11 of the past 20 years.
  • Arizona State (Normal School) won the first ever meeting in 1899.
  • Arizona leads the all-time series 49-40-1.
  • Since Arizona State became a university in 1958, the Sun Devils lead the series 31-26-1.
  • Since both teams moved to the Pac-10 from the WAC in 1978, Arizona leads 21-17-1 including a streak of 9-0-1.
  • This century, ASU leads 10-7 and has won three of the past five years.

Regardless of what you think will happen, the opposite will usually occur. This game has seen it all from Arizona students burning the brand new field at Sun Devil Stadium in 1958 to two blocked PAT’s on a cold December night in 2010.

While that stung for Arizona, they will always have their big moment. In 1986, both teams came in to the game nationally ranked; the ‘Cats were 7-2 and ranked No. 14 and hosted the No. 4 Sun Devils who came to Tucson sporting a 9-0-1 record. Of course, Arizona went on to win that game being the only blemish on the Pac-10 and Rose Bowl champion’s resume.

This year’s game in Tempe has big bowl implications when we thought for sure the only thing they would be fighting for was saving their head coach from the unemployment line.

MLS Preseason Returns to Tucson

TUCSON — For decades, Major League Baseball teams have escaped to the Arizona desert for Spring Training and for the past six years, Major League Soccer has also warmed up to the desert.

When Tucson lost their lost two Spring Training teams after the 2010 season, the City of Tucson knew that it needed to lure pro sports teams to the Old Pueblo during the late winter and early spring—enter FC Tucson and Major League Soccer. The once-home of the Arizona Diamondbacks is now home to Jon Pearlman and FC Tucson.

Completed in 2013, the North Stadium at the Kino Sports Complex comfortably sits 1,800 fans with two loges, a press box and an overhang that blocks out the blistering sun and the occasional rain storm.

The Past Two MLS Cup Champions will meet

Over the years, the Desert Diamond Cup has become the premiere preseason event for Major League Soccer with six teams playing playing in a double-elimination format on February 18 and 25.

In addition to the Cup, there will be three other matches including four additional MLS teams.

The action gets underway on February 27 at 6:30 pm at Kino North Stadium when the Portland Timbers face off against the New York Red Bulls.

The opening ceremonies will honor several people that have made soccer in Tucson not only a possibility but the success that it is today.

Tucson Legends of Soccer

A total of 18 community leaders, six coaches, nine current and former players and five referees will be recognized for their efforts in helping make Tucson and southern Arizona a thriving soccer community. Three members of the local sports media will be honored including Dave Ord and Greg Hansen from the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson Sentinel’s Ted Preselski.

Former FC Tucson players now playing in the bigs will also be honored including New York Red Bulls’ Luis Robles, Real Salt Lake’s Justin Glad and Ricardo Velazco. It will be a triumphant homecoming for Velazco who played at Sunnyside High School and Tucson Soccer Academy before spending three seasons with the men in black.

Desert Friendlies

Following the recognition of the Tucson Legends of Soccer, it is time to get down to business.

The top-ranked team at he end of the regular season in 2016, the New York Red Bulls will take the pitch against the Portland Timbers. The Timbers won their first MLS Cup in 2015 and always represent well in Tucson.

The following Friday night, February 4 will see a preview of the Cascadia Cup. In a rematch of the largest crowd ever at Kino North Stadium last year, rivals Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers will clash with more than just pride on the line.

This marquee matchup pits the top two teams of the past two years with the Timbers winning the MLS Cup in 2015 and the Sounders as the defending MLS Cup champion.

This game was intense last year and both teams will be looking to admonish the other and claim dominance in the desert.

Tickets for both games are $15.50 for children, $22.00 for adults of get a four-pack for $70.50.


Desert Diamond Cup

The Wife & Me Last Year

If you are looking for more bang for your buck ,the Desert Diamond Cup offers up three games for the price of one on February 18 and 25.

Beginning at 1:00 pm at Kino North Stadium, the New England Revolution take on Tim Howard and the Colorado Rapids. Howard, if you don’t recall, was the goalie for the U.S. Men’s team in the 2010 and 2014 World Cup.

The New York Red Bulls take on 2013 MLS Cup champion, Sporting Kansas City at 3:30 pm with New York City Football Club and the Houston Dynamo providing the nightcap at 6:00 pm.

The following Saturday will offer up three more games with the No. 5 and No. 6 teams playing at 1:00 pm, No. 3 vs. No.4 at 3:30 pm and the top two seeds playing at 6:00 pm.

“This event is important to the community because it has brought groups together that are vital for the success of Tucson as a city,” FC Tucson General Manager Jon Pearlman said. “Through private and public partnership, great sponsors, the work of Pima County, the City of Tucson, Visit Tucson, and the Town of Oro Valley, FC Tucson is proud to again be the MLS Western Hub of Preseason and bring the beautiful game to Southern Arizona.”

16 of the Best Sports Bars in Tucson

The food and beverage scene in Tucson and Southern Arizona has been on fire lately. First it was featured in the New York Times and USA Today boasting the culinary landscape, then leading craft beer website Beer Advocate did a focus on the bustling brewery scene in the Old Pueblo. But this is a sports town. Where’s the love for the locally-owned and operated sports bars?

This is a magical time of year for sports fans.

Football season is in full swing; the Cubs finally won a World Series while both the NHL and NBA seasons began last month. There is a new professional hockey team playing at the Convention Center and they’re currently leading their division.

The region’s favorite team, University of Arizona men’s basketball opened the 2016-17 season with a thrilling victory >>>more

Article originally published on

FC Tucson Begins Playoff Push on Friday


FCTucsonAfter a convincing 5-0 victory over Albuquerque Sol FC to clinch the top seed in the Western Conference, the Men in Black could relax in its season finale against the Ventura County Fusion.

There was no relaxation on Saturday night at Kino North Stadium.

After a first half that saw the teams tied at one apiece, the Fusion jumped out to an early second half lead and looked to secure a spot in the playoffs themselves. It wasn’t until the 77th minute that FC Tucson opened the scoring flood gates and hammered the Fusion into submission with four unanswered goals including a hat trick from Afonso Pinhiero.

FC Tucson

FC Tucson

“When you go through moments like this, something you’ve been striving for, you start to think about your family, the ones who love you and the ones that are back home,” Pinheiro said as he shed a tear. “It’s been really hard to be away from home and I know all my family’s been at home watching the games.”

The PDL is the Premier Development League for players under 23 years old and is divided into four conferences and 10 divisions divided geographically. Of the 49 teams in the league, 22 of those advanced to the playoffs including seven teams from the four divisions in the Western Conference.

FC Tucson and the Charlotte Eagles out of the South Atlantic Division in the Eastern Conference are the only teams with a first-round bye while six teams from each conference will battle for a semifinal berth. The smaller Southern and Central Conferences only send four teams to the postseason with the Conference champions taking on the Eastern and Western Conference champions respectively.


Men in White?

The Men in Black will face the winner of the Calgary Foothills and Seattle Sounders U23. The two teams finished the season as the No. 1 and 2 teams in the Northwest Division after Calgary bested Seattle 3-2 on Sunday. Thursday’s match between the teams will be the third consecutive match with Calgary winning the previous two meetings.


The playoffs are nothing new for FC Tucson as they have finished atop their division for three consecutive seasons. Unfortunately, they have yet to win a conference championship losing in 2014 to the Kitsap Pumas and last year to the aforementioned Seattle U23 squad.

Tickets for Friday’s games can be obtained by calling (520) 334-115, by e-mail at or online here.

Meep Meep! Tucson Secures Pro Hockey Team


There’s a new team in town and this one seems to be here for the long haul.

Tucson has had it’s flirtations with pro baseball with the Sidewinders, Toros, Padres as well as the spring training home for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks. Eventually each of the following left the Old Pueblo and with it a gaping hole longing for something to root for other than the University of Arizona.

When it was announced earlier this year that the Arizona Coyotes were thinking of moving their top-level affiliate team from Springfield, Mass. the city was abuzz with the opportunity that it would actually move to Tucson. There were the typical nay-sayers and detractors commenting that Tucson couldn’t support a pro franchise even on the AAA-level or there was not enough of a fan base for ice hockey in the desert.

Boy, were they wrong.

LeBlanc. Chayka & Tippett

LeBlanc. Chayka & Tippett

In an announcement at the Tucson Convention Center on Saturday, the new local American Hockey League franchise, and affiliate of the Arizona Coyotes, revealed its name to be the Tucson Roadrunners. The organization held a “name the team” contest and Roadrunners was the “overwhelming favorite,” said Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc.

“We were just so overwhelmed with the support we saw and the names that were submitted,” LeBlanc said. “We knew that was the right name.”

The owners, coaches and prominent representatives were all on hand for the announcement.

“The turnout was incredible. Quite frankly it exceeded my expectations,” said Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. “There has been excitement. It’s a community that wants good things to happen and it’s a sports community. So you have this level of sports activity it just makes people feel better about it and it creates a good buzz.”

New head coach Mark Lamb is eager to develop new players for the big boys in Glendale. Lamb’s coaching resume includes six seasons as an assistant to Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett when Tippett was behind the bench in Dallas from 2002-09.

Also in the mix are are Mark Hardy as the primary assistant coach and Corey Schwab who will coach the goaltenders. Hardy also coached with Tippett; both were assistants with the Los Angeles Kings under Andy Murray from 1999-2002.

New Head Coach Mark Lamb

New Head Coach Mark Lamb

Now on to the big business of getting the home of the Roadrunners renovated. While the Tucson IceCats have played at the Convention Center for years, there will a litany of improvements made to the location in preparation of the new minor league team. The Rio Nuevo Board approved $3.7 million in upgrades to the arena.

The project will include locker room renovations, a new Zamboni, new dasher boards, an additional video system, renovation of the ice making equipment, and a new retail store.

The season won’t start until the end of October, but on Oct. 9 the team will host a red-and-white intrasquad game in which all of the Coyotes’ NHL players will play along with the AHL roster from the Roadrunners. Admission is free, but the Coyotes are asking fans for a $5 donation upon entry, with all proceeds going toward the University of Arizona hockey program.

The Roadrunners will play in the American Hockey League’s Pacific Division. In 2015-16, the Pacific Division featured the AHL affiliates of the Anaheim Ducks (San Diego Gulls), Calgary Flames (Stockton Heat), Colorado Avalanche (San Antonio Rampage), Dallas Stars (Texas Stars), Edmonton Oilers (Bakersfield Condors), Los Angeles Kings (Ontario Reign) and San Jose Sharks (San Jose Barracuda).

The season will begin in earnest on October 28 and ticket prices will range from $10 to $40 per game with discounts for season ticket packages. Visit or call 866-415-4695. Fans can also email ticket representatives at

Arizona softball drops super regionals opener to Louisiana-Lafayette

Wilson ArizonaLAFAYETTE, La. — Arizona began the game with a leadoff home run from All-Conference first team selection Hallie Wilson, but would get little offense until the final frame of a 5-3 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette Friday night in Lafayette, La. The final Wildcat runs came when shortstop Kellie Fox launched a 2-run homer over the center field wall scoring Kelsey Rodriguez who reached on an error in the prior at-bat.

Cajuns’ junior Christina Hamilton pitched a complete game, scattering seven hits while only giving up two earned runs with four strikeouts and four walks.

For Arizona, seniors Estela Pinon and Shelby Babcock each pitched three innings. Pinon took the loss after giving up five hits and five earned runs, while striking out one and walking four. Babcock shut down the Cajuns’ bats, only surrendering one hit and no runs in the final three frames.

Aside from Wilson’s homer in the first and Fox’s two-run shot in the seventh, the Wildcats couldn’t find a groove. Power hitters Chelsea Goodacre, Katiyana Mauga and Mo Mercado managed a meager 1-for-11 with three strikeouts.

Arizona (44-15) and Louisiana-Lafayette (48-8-1) will meet tomorrow at noon PT with the Wildcats needing a victory to force a decisive third game at 3 p.m. for the right to go to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series.

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.

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).

Arizona Baseball: Wildcats Drop Doubleheader on Final Day of Classic

Cats Dogs

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Arizona Wildcats were having a good run on the first two days of the inaugural Hi Corbett Classic over the weekend, until Sunday arrived. Arizona had outscored its opponents, No. 17 Mississippi State (11-7) and UC Santa Barbara (10-2) by a score of 22-8  in the nightcap games on Friday and Saturday nights but couldn’t maintain the momentum coming into Sunday’s doubleheader.

The Wildcats were blown out 10-2 by the Gauchos in the early game and lost a close one to the Bulldogs, 6-4 in the later game.

Three Arizona pitchers were used against UC Santa Barbara and starting pitcher Tyler Crawford was ran from the game before he was able to record his second out of the game. Crawford walked the first batter he faced and hit the next.>>>Read more on College Baseball Central.

Big West Baseball: UC Santa Barbara Proves Worthy at Hi Corbett Classic


TUCSON, Ariz — The inaugural Hi Corbett Classic was scheduled to feature two College World Series finalists of the past two years. The 2013 runner-up Mississippi State Bulldogs and 2012 champion Arizona Wildcats were the big draws with the University of California Santa Barbara filling out the tournament.

Through five of six games, it is the Gauchos (10-2) who are making the big news over the weekend, not the No. 17 Mississippi State Bulldogs (11-7). >>>Read more on College Baseball Central.