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Softball Season Preview


Eastern Arizona College softball is ready to start up another year under the helm of head coach Kate McCluskey. This is the start of her 16th season as head coach for the Gila Monsters. After 2 years of being without the thrill of a playoff seat, the Gila Monsters have been working since August to find the key to get back into the limelight of the ACCAC. The Arizona conference is stacked with talented players and programs with not one, but two, National Champions coming from Arizona.

Since the division split of DI and DII programs, Arizona can send twice the amount of teams to two different National Championship tournaments. Arizona is a tough place to play in softball, with both Pima and Phoenix College holding the 2004 National title. EAC, who has been a consistent playoff contender in the past, knows what it takes to get there and for the last 2 years has not stepped up to the challenge. After recruiting 2 players for each position and getting lucky in the pitching pool, EAC feels they can compete this year for one of the three Division I playoff spots. “I just put it back on the team this year. We put quality players in each position and let them fight it out to see who will be the toughest both mentally and physically.” We think we have come up with a pretty good team. In the fall we were able to scrimmage and beat nationally ranked Midland College from Texas, New Mexico State University and Arizona powerhouse, Central Arizona College. Granted the team has to come back and start where they left off over a month ago, but, this team can do it. Our team motto this year is “GET IT BACK”, meaning put the pride back in EAC softball.

EAC will be led by a host of sophomores who all have extensive playing time. A local favorite is Allyson Nye who played at Thatcher High School. She is a second year starting catcher for EAC and brings a powerful bat to the lineup. Allyson brings things you cannot coach to the field, she is a hard worker and a just get it done kind of player. Erica Beltran who transferred to EAC last year in January from Midland College gave us our only hope for success in 2004. This year she is a seasoned veteran who knows what it takes to win in the ACCAC and her hometown is Las Cruces, NM. Ivy Ramos from Pomona, CA started second base in 04 and has really upped her game this fall. She worked very hard as the competition was stiff in her position. Her biggest improvement has come at the plate. With her able to get base hits in the 5 or 6 hole, she will now be a threat. Jacque Guzman is a second year, first baseman from Hayden. The local softball fans will know that Hayden and Thatcher have had the great rivalry in the past and she brings a tough mental attitude with her as she was coached by one of the most well known softball coaches in the state of Arizona, Chito Guzman. Amber Mattox Toyota was also a transfer in January of 2004. She is an outfielder and her biggest contribution in the fall was her maturity. She has stepped into the leadership role both on and off the field. She was married and had a baby since leaving EAC last spring and that experience has stepped up her game as well. Maren Christensen is our last sophomore. She brings playing experience to the lineup as a pitcher and hitter. She played the 2002 season at Colorado State and is getting her grades up to transfer on. She is one of the hardest hitters we have had at EAC in some time.

Our 2005 recruits will be our team mold. This group has pushed each of our sophomores into a higher gear. The expectations of freshman players in the JUCO ranks are that they must be able to come in and contribute immediately. EAC can play any person on the roster and not drop in skill level.

Amber Angle, a Safford High School graduate played volleyball for EAC in the fall and earned great respect as a player who will play hurt and play hard all of the time. We have not had her out much with softball, but she will push players who have worked out all fall to either get better or get out of the way, she will not back down. Sabina Chavez played at Cholla High School and for the Tucson Scramblers. It was at a scrimmage in the fall of 2003 that we talked with her about attending EAC, and she can play three of the four infield positions and pitch if necessary. Her bat is big for a girl of her size. She is deceiving, but effective. Rebekah Eliserio is from Moon Valley High School in Phoenix. She is a slapper in our line-up and will compete in the outfield. She came to us late in the fall, but she hustled everyday to make the team. She will only get better with competition. Savannah Formo another player from Hayden has brought many exciting games to the Gila Valley already in her marathon pitching performances against Thatcher Ace, Rocky Bejarano. Savannah pitched a run rule shutout against Central this fall. Ariadne Gonzalez is from Carson City, NV. She is a catcher and will have to battle with Allyson for playing time. She will get her share because both her and Ally have the same personality, which is just get it done. Raveon Harrowa is another player who played on the volleyball team who represented EAC at the regional tournament. She is from Fernly, NV. Raveon is just one of those girls who is a good athlete and player. She has not worked out with softball too much, but will bring stability when she is on the field. She is a very intense player who will do what she has to make the play. Mari Hernandez is an outfielder from Douglas by way of Yuma. Mari will have to work hard for playing time in an outfield that will be working out five players for the three positions. Lieryn Jacobs is but another 101 softball player. She does her job and you never notice her unless she messes up. She will workout at shortstop as her primary position, but has flexibility to move around. Lieryn is from Sparks, NV. Regina Sandoval is an outfielder from Hayden. She is converted to outfield from her comfort zone at shortstop, but made the transition pretty well and she brings speed to our lineup. Laura Scarselli is from Reno, NV. She has great power at the plate and is expected to hit for extra bases. Her strength is amazing and once she sees the type of pitchers, she will make some noise. Markie Varela brings diversity to us. She can play infield and outfield. Markie will lead off for us as she can bunt, slap or hit from the left side. She is the type of player you find a spot for on the field.

Our coaching staff has doubled from what it normally is. We are fortunate to have Patty Cruz work with us when she gets off work at her full time job. She is a great softball “technician” and tells it like it is. Cruz has worked for EAC in the past as coach as this is her 9th year as assistant. Leonard Alvarado who was an assistant at Safford High School last year will be in his first semester as a Gila Monster. Leonard is another local man who knows the game and will contribute with his softball knowledge. Karren Hatch is in her second year and played on the 1999 and 2000 teams. She transferred to Cameron University where she finished her career and received her degree.

EAC softball, is exciting, fast paced and never boring. We invite you out to watch and follow us as we work to “GET IT BACK.”