Despite a bit of snow last week, the spring sports season is underway in Southern Arizona, with baseball and softball kicking off their seasons.
We’re fortunate enough to have six schools that excel at both sports, with a variety of teams making deep playoff runs last year.
Without further ado, here are the players to keep an eye on as the baseball and softball seasons reach a fever pitch in Arizona.
No.1: Ben Cordova, Canyon del Oro senior left-handed pitcher
Cordova should be the workhorse southpaw in first-year coach Jason Hisey’s rotation this year, with a nice assortment of pitches in his repertoire. Cordova threw 18 innings as a junior for the Dorados, showing a nice mixture of velocity with movement on his pitches. He’ll be counted upon, along with fellow senior Enrique ‘Kiko’ Romero to guide the Dorados back to the 4A tournament this spring, but should be more than up for the task at-hand.
No. 2: Alec Larson, Catalina Foothills senior shortstop
Larson is one of the few Falcon starters to return from last year’s 25-8 club that lost to Nogales, 3-2, in the state final. The senior shortstop had seven multi-hit games a year ago, providing a nice middle of the order presence for coach James Baldwin. Larson should see his productivity soar this spring, as the Falcons look to reach new heights this spring. Larson, along with junior Christian Rodriguez, should be two of the best hitters in the city this spring.
No. 3: Ryan Garcia, Pusch Ridge Christian Academy junior shortstop
Garcia has established himself as one of the better multi-sport athletes in the city during his three-year career at Pusch Ridge, with baseball fast becoming the sport he excels at the most. The junior was the main piece in the Lions’ lineup last season, when the squad went 20-10, with seven multi-hit games, out of 28 starts. Garcia appears to feature the type of contact swing that allows him to utilize his blazing speed, putting line drives into alleys, which allows the Lions to contend with longtime region powers, like Sahuarita and Sabino. Expect big things from the 5-foot-8-inch middle infielder this spring.
No. 1: Amya Legarra, Canyon del Oro junior pitcher
Legarra established herself as one of the best pitchers in the state last season, assuming the number-one spot in the circle from current ASU star Mikayla Santa Cruz. The junior has a unique skillset, with dominating velocity and unmatched movement for a pitcher her age. Expect Legarra to continue dazzling opposing hitters this spring, guiding the Dorados back to the state playoffs.
No. 2: Destiny Vasquez, Marana senior middle infielder
Vasquez established herself as one of the Tigers’ go-to hitters a year ago, providing a torrent of quality hitting with solid fielding, playing the second and shortstop positions for coach George Corona. The senior had an eye-popping .426 average and .479 on-base percentage as a junior, meaning she found her way onto the bases almost half of the times she stepped up to bat a year ago, which is insane. Expect Vasquez to provide a lot of timely hitting for the squad this spring, as the Tigers look to make it back to the 5A playoffs this spring.
No. 3: Jaiden Reid, Ironwood Ridge senior outfielder
Reid is one of the most complete outfielders in the state, with a three-year run at Ironwood Ridge that boggles the mind. The senior has a career batting average of .434 in 104 games, with 145 hits, 84 RBIs and 122 runs to her credit so far. Her .424 average a year ago was the lowest she’s put up to-date, which is insane. Reid also showed a greater power threat to her game as a junior, with eight home runs in 35 games, after belting two homers in her first two seasons combined. It’s crazy that Reid has only struck out 12 times in 127 plate appearances a year ago, which illustrates her incredible eye for the strike zone. Reid will be a one-woman wrecking crew this spring, before heading to Phoenix to play her college career at Grand Canyon University.