The high school softball season is fast approaching its conclusion, with several local teams reaching the postseason.
There has been a myriad of high-level performers at each program, guiding their teams to the next level on the diamond. These players have done everything in their power to propel their teams to success, standing out in a jam-packed region that’s full of talent.
Without further ado, here’s who stood out the most in northwest Tucson during this year’s high school softball season:
Canyon del Oro senior
.500, 29 hits, 20 RBI, 9 doubles, 3 home runs
Morris has been an excellent cog for Kelly Fowler’s offense this season, driving in runs aplenty. Though she suffered a severe leg injury two seasons ago, she returned with gusto this year, providing power and prowess in the middle of the Dorados’ batting order this spring. The future University of Utah Ute shined, both on the diamond and in the pitcher’s circle, for Fowler’s team this season, smacking three home runs, while going 5-3 with a 2.64 ERA in the pitcher’s circle. Morris has a bright future ahead of her in Salt Lake City, serving as the latest Dorado in a long line to head off to the collegiate level.
Mountain View senior
.439, 25 hits, 20 RBI, 3 doubles, 2 home runs
Cordova has provided coach Ramon De La Ossa with some serious speed and pop in the Lions’ lineup this season, leading the team in hitting, hits and RBIs. Cordova’s timely hitting and excellent speed have allowed the Lions to post an 18-8 record this season, putting the team in fine position to gain a top-8 seed in the 5A tournament, which would allow them to host a first-round playoff game.
.455, 30 hits, 25 RBI, 4 doubles, 3 home runs
Wright has been a key part of the Tigers’ offense this season, guiding George Corona’s squad to a 13-10 record. Wright, who has seen a lot of action at the shortstop and outfield positions during her three-year career, has shown herself to be a tour de force with the bat in her hand, leading the team in hits, RBIs and home runs this year. Expect great things from Wright next season, as she tries to guide the Tigers to the next level during her senior campaign.
No. 5: Jessica Niegocki
Mountain View junior
1.75 ERA, 123 strikeouts/.377, 23 hits, 12 RBIs, 2 doubles, 2 triples
Niegocki is a super talented pitcher that happens to have the ability to tear the cover off the ball at the plate as well. The junior leads her team in most pitching categories this season, including striking out an eye-popping 123 batters in 72 innings pitched for the Lions this year. Her ability to punch out hitters while avoiding costly walks is worth noting as well, as she has only walked 34 batters this year, giving Niegocki an insane strikeout-to-walk ratio that borders on 4:1. Expect great things from the flame-throwing junior next year, as the Lions will count on her continued dominance in the circle, while continuing her timely hitting as well.
No. 4: Diana Nisbett
Ironwood Ridge senior
.448, 26 hits, 28 RBIs, 7 doubles, 4 home runs
Nisbett might be the most improved player of the season, building her power and timely hitting to levels unseen in her first three varsity seasons at Ironwood Ridge. She has the ability to sit on poor pitches with great plate discipline, before pouncing on the first mistake she sees, which allows her to throttle opposing hurlers and give coach Dave Martinez a middle of the order hitter to build his roster around. Nisbett has a deceiving amount of power as well, slugging four home runs this year. Expect her to be an extremely tough out come playoff time, giving the Nighthawks the offensive power they need to contend for another state title this spring.
No. 3: Hope Banales
Canyon del Oro senior
.516, 32 hits, 18 RBIs, 10 doubles, 3 home runs
Banales might be the best leadoff hitter in Tucson, with a crazy combination of speed and power that gives opponents fits. She’s posted an absurd batting average this year, while leading the Dorados in steals, with 9 to her name this season. Banales gives the Dorados an immediate power threat that can also cut down her swing and put balls in play with ease, meaning Fowler can rely on her to consistently get on base and thwart opposing pitchers’ game plans. She’s a very talented player, and one that should have no problem succeeding at the collegiate level, once she gets to New Mexico State University in 2020.
No. 2: Jaiden Reid
Ironwood Ridge senior
.486, 35 hits, 30 RBI, 11 doubles, 6 home runs
Reid might be the finest left-handed power hitter I’ve seen in five years of covering the high school game, with a sweet swing that regularly makes solid contact. The future Grand Canyon University Antelope has thwarted opposing pitchers for most of her career, with this season being no different. Reid has an insane amount of doubles and home runs to her name this year, with 17 combined in 79 plate appearances. Reid is the best hitter in Tucson, in my opinion, and one that should thrive in the Western Athletic Conference next season and in years to come for GCU. It’ll be fun to watch her go against the best of the best in the 5A tournament, which kicks off next week.
No. 1: Amya Legarra
Canyon del Oro junior
8-1, 1.78 ERA, 78 strikeouts (9 walks)/.321, 17 hits, 1 home run, 8 RBIs
Legarra is a future Division I pitcher, true and through, with an unhittable combination of pitches that make hitters buckle in fear. The tall junior throws with conviction in the circle, with a surprisingly powerful bat as well. The junior has provided Fowler’s team with a bona fide top-tier pitcher, with an insane 8-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio this year. Legarra’s success in the circle makes her an easy choice for the top spot on this year’s list, with much more to come from the junior in the year ahead. It’s not every day a pitcher at the high school level can mix location and speed like Legarra can, which means you’ll soon be seeing her pitching at the sport’s highest level, like many Dorado pitchers before her.