The Salt River High School Lady Eagles softball team hosted the Seventh Annual Salt River Softball Classic March 24–26. Fourteen schools took part in the tournament: Salt River, Monument Valley, Greyhills, Babo, Tempe Prep, Salome, South Pointe, Bagdad, Arizona Lutheran, Miami, Chandler Prep, San Tan Foothills, Veritas and Phoenix Christian.
Salt River took on South Pointe in the first game of the tournament, and the Lady Eagles finished on top, 15-6. In the top of the first inning, Salt River went through the entire batting order; Kierstan Timmons and Yonnie Dash faced the South Pointe pitcher twice in the first inning to aid the Eagles in their early 5-0 lead. Celia Padilla-Hicks also earned a stand-up triple, bringing in three runs, and crossed the plate on a throwing error to home plate to add the fifth run.
Padilla-Hicks was the starting pitcher for the Eagles. In the bottom of the first inning she gave up one single, but forced a ground-out and fly-out to get Salt River out of the inning.
In the bottom of the second inning, South Pointe scored two runs on a walk, followed by an RBI single to left field. Salt River added five more runs in the top of the third inning on hits from Dash and Cristina Valadez. The Eagles recorded five additional runs in the top of the fourth inning to improve their lead, 15-2. South Pointe rallied back in the bottom of the fourth, but they were unable to continue their rally after seven batters and fell to Salt River.
The Eagles took on Salome on March 25 and defeated them 7-6. In their final game of the tournament, Salt River lost to Arizona Lutheran, 8-2.
Lady Eagles Build on Leadership
Salt River varsity softball team Head Coach Lynnann Yazzie is in her first year as head coach of the Lady Eagles. She came over to Salt River from Maricopa High School, where she was the assistant head coach for the varsity volleyball team.
There are currently 16 girls on the roster at Salt River, but Yazzie said the numbers change from game to game and practice to practice.
“I have really 10 or 11 active players on the team right now,” she said. “I think a lot of these girls as individuals are very talented, but pulling together as one team takes a lot of work, and when our attendance sways with different girls on different days, I think that is the biggest challenge for us.” She said her goal is to get everyone together at the same time with one solid lineup, so the girls get used to who plays in what positions as opposed to changing the lineup every game. “That is our biggest challenge, and if we can get some consistency with that, this will be a very great team because individually they are really good players.”
Yazzie said one of the strongest attributes her team has this season is the strength of the juniors and seniors who play softball all year long.
“I have three solid pitchers,” Yazzie said. “Celia is most often our starting pitcher, and she is a freshman so I am very lucky to have her. She is a good pitcher and has her own pitching coach, and I am glad to have her for another three years after this season. It has helped to have those who have played on the team serve as strong leaders.”
Padilla-Hicks has been playing softball for quite some time and said the best part about representing her team from the pitcher’s circle is striking people out. She also said hitting is one of her favorite parts about the game. As a freshman, she brings a great deal of talent to a team eager to improve.
“It is kind of intimidating to be a freshman on varsity, but not really because I am used to it,” she said. “It is pretty challenging facing older girls, but I like it better than in junior high because I have been playing girls older than me and I am used to it.”
Padilla-Hicks said she is still trying to work on keeping her pitches lower and getting more strikeouts. She said her fellow players have the ability to pick each other up, and she credits this as one of the reasons for their early success.
Phylicia Greyeyes also brings experience to the team, playing both shortstop and pitcher. Her favorite position is playing in the middle of the field at short, because she said she likes having the responsibility.
“I like to be everywhere, so I really enjoy shortstop. Defense is my strong point. I would like to improve my batting and pitching, so I am just practicing and spending time working on it,” she added.
Greyeyes has set a goal to earn a scholarship to play softball at the collegiate level. She said she would like to attend San Diego State University.
She agreed that the team lacks cohesion and consistency at the moment. “Some of us are always here (at practices and games), and the other people who are not here just expect to play in the games, and then everyone gets upset with each other. So we are working to come together as a team,” she said. “We are all close to each other outside of softball, and so we are working to be close on the field. We all cheer each other on, and that helps us.”