The Four Corners of Sports – Feb. 27, 2013

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By Andrew Luberda, Southeast Valley Ledger

Queen Creek HS

Bulldogs Baseball

Head Coach Mike Campbell and the 2013 Bulldogs baseball team have high expectations for the upcoming season. The Bulldogs have 11 players returning from last season’s team that finished 18-11 (13-5 in Power Point games).

“Our players have very high expectations,” Campbell said. “Everything we do should be done with [all-out] effort.”

Juniors Marcus Still and Chase Beal lead the group of returning players. The performance and ability of Still and Beal has attracted the attention of college recruiters. They’ll be joined by five new players.

The Bulldogs roster includes seniors Chris Ervin, Derek Arrington, Jaren Holmes, and Jett Wodiuk.  Jake Schlosser, Ryan Kottcamp and Tanner Bradford are juniors. Sophomores on the roster are Bryce Dobbs, Josh Andrews, Kody Funderburke, and Tre Baker. Austin Nichols is the lone freshman on the varsity roster.

Coach Campbell expects his players to excel academically and they have.

“Students are expected to have great grades,” he said. “Our team GPA has been (at least) 3.2 for the last eight years.” He also adds that Bulldogs players have completed over 1200 hours of community service over the past eight years.

The Bulldogs started their 2013 season on Feb. 21, 2013 in the Laveen Baseball Classic with a 15-0 victory over Fairfax. After competing in the Laveen Baseball Classic, the Bulldogs will have two games on the road before returning home on Mar. 4, 2013 vs. Higley. Game time is 3:45 p.m.


Lady Bulldogs Softball

Last season’s Lady Bulldogs finished 20-15. Head Coach Katie Bundy feels the 2013 edition of the Lady Bulldogs is very strong and versatile. She also believes the players are determined and want to win.

The Lady Bulldogs have three returning players from last season’s roster: Bailey Cornwell, Ryland Estrada and Lexis Valenzuala.  Estrada and Valenzuala earned All-Conference honors in 2012.

Despite there being only one senior on the roster, Coach Bundy says, “Our leadership is very strong with the upper class.”

Joining the returning players are 10 new players: Mariah Gallegos, Lindsey Gaumen, Lindsay Gilchrist, Maribel Gonzalez, Ryann Holmes, Madison Merrell, Brie-Anna Nelson, Abi Rope, Brooke Rushefsky, Courtney Spurlock, and Asia Weddle.

Coach Bundy likes this year’s team.

“I have a good group of girls,” she said. “They feed off one another and are fun to watch.”

The Lady Bulldogs started their season on Feb. 21, 2013 in the Dorado Classic. Their first home game is Mar. 1, 2013 vs. Campo Verde at 3:45 p.m.



Sabercats Baseball

The Sabertcats finished the 2012 season with a record of 8-18. New first-year Head Coach Loren Erich has coached the past six seasons at Mountain Vista Middle School.

Becoming the Head Coach at San Tan Foothills should be a smooth transition for Erich.

“I have coached most of the same boys before,” he said. “They are familiar with my style and they know what I expect.”

The Sabercats have only one returning player from last season’s team, senior C Chris

Bailey. Bailey is the team captain and is expected to provide leadership. Three more seniors, two juniors, and a combined 11 sophomores and freshmen make up the remainder of the roster.

Senior P Sergio Labrada is expected to contribute in CF as well. Seniors Calvin Franklin and Christian Harwood are on the roster. The juniors are Jordan Lopez and Jordan Heimer. Dillon Ramsey, Roman Arbisi, Marcus Fitzsimmons, and Dale Bailey are the sophomores on the team.

Considering Coach Erich’s middle school experience, he is very familiar with the seven freshmen on the varsity club. They include Estevan O’dell, Anthony Liu, Caleb Ortiz, Kaleb McCarn, Nick Saults, Juan Lopez, and Joshua Santos. 

  Coach Erich know it’s a process to rebuild a program. Part of that process is improving the facilities. During the offseason, San Tan Foothills installed a batting cage, rebuilt the pitcher’s mound, reshaped the perimeter, and manicured the infield.

“We have to take pride in our field and our facilities to take the program to another level,” he said.

Coach Erich counts the contributions from our younger players on the team as a key to this season. With more than 65% of the roster made up of underclassmen, he knows mistakes are bound to happen.

“They will make mistakes,” he said. “But we are working with them to improve every day.”

He plans to give younger players ample opportunities to play and contribute so they gain experience that will pay dividends in the future. He knows the experience will be a great thing and help take the program to the next level.

Coach Erich says the Sabercats are on a three-year plan. He knows there will growing pains along the way, but “[they] are looking at the big picture down the road.”

The Sabercats 2013 season was scheduled to begin on Feb. 20, 2013 in the Falcon Invitational at Fountain Hills. However, due to the inclement weather, their double-header was re-scheduled to Feb. 22, 2013.

Beginning on Feb. 28, 2013 the Sabercats will be participating in the Joe S. Padilla Tournament. Their first home game is Mar. 5, 2013 vs. Queen Creek. Game time is 4:00 p.m.


Sabercats Softball

The 2012 season was disappointing for the Sabercats softball team. The 2013 season provides an opportunity to eliminate the disappointment of 2012. A new head coach and some new talent provide reasons for optimism.

Head coach Scott Saults begins his first year leading the Sabercats softball team. Saults comes with some credentials. He has a history of rebuilding programs.

Coach Saults does have talent to work with. The Sabercats have five returning players, including four starters.  There are 13 newcomers including sophomore Schyler Johnson who Coach Saults calls a key addition to the team.

Johnson will be counted on to provide pitching.  She also has a big bat and will turn some heads according to Coach Saults. He expects junior SS Tekatrianna Schulte-Evans and senior C Allie Gardner to contend for All-District honors.

Other players on the 2013 Sabercats are seniors Claryssa Navarro, Megan Dubey, Tiffany Haugen, Taylor Handley, and Rubelle Gray.  The juniors are Andreana Trejo, Lauren Ross, and Alyssa Misipeka.  Besides Johnson, the sophomores are Sierra Mason and Courtney CraigAshley Keenan, Mikayla Eriacho, Hazel Wagner, and Sabrina Owens are freshmen.

Because of his history of rebuilding programs, Coach Saults knows what it takes to field a successful team.

“Consistent pitching,” he said. “Our defense is solid and as a team we will put the bat on the ball.

Saults says his team must master the fundamentals of the game. If they do, he says, “That will allow us to compete within our District.”

Last year’s team earned only two victories.  They are the only victories in the school’s history. “We have focused from day 1 on changing the culture,” said Saults. “That has changed!”

When asked about the expectations of his players, Saults replied, “Respect for our opponents and expect to win.”

Coach Saults knows the Sabercats have a very difficult schedule. He figures some teams may overlook his team.  He intends to use that to his team’s advantage and “catch a lot of teams off-guard.”

He believes the Sabercats may contend for a playoff appearance.  Why?  “We have already improved dramatically as a team,” Saults said.

The Sabercats softball team could become the first girls’ team in school history, in any sport, to earn a playoff appearance.

The Sabercats first home game is March 1, 2013 vs. Sequoia. Game time is 4:00 p.m.

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