Morenci softball opener against Safford called off; Pima game reset for Tuesday

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Third-year MHS head softball coach Joseph Garcia (45-19-1 overall, 3-2 state playoffs) tosses a ball during a hitting session. The 2017 East Co-Region Coach-of-the-Year has four returning seniors and a junior as the nucleus of the 2019 team.

By Raymundo Frasquillo

MORENCI – The Morenci Wildcats’ softball opener with Safford was called off, a victim of a major winter storm soaking the home field for the Feb. 22 scheduled game. The Feb. 23 road game in Pima was rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 26.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Three-year varsity letter winner Heather Lee awaits a pitch during a recent practice session. The senior catcher batted .484 (40-92) with 32 RBIs, 11 doubles, and four triples. She was selected 2A East Region 1st team and received all-conference honorable mention in 2018.

The 2019 Joseph Garcia-coached Wildcats return 11 players with varsity game experience. Seniors Heather Lee, Jaim’ee Rodriguez, and Destiny Chavarria along with junior Angel Ontiveros head the group. Each has 31 of 32 games experience under their belt.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Two-year letter winner Destiny Chavarria takes a cut from the batter’s box during a recent practice session. She batted .326 (28-86) with 24 RBIs, 10 doubles, two triples and was named to the region 2nd team last season.

Last season, Lee batted .484 (40-92, 32 RBIs, 11 doubles, 4 triples), Rodriguez .398 (35-88, 33 RBIs, 12 doubles, 5 home runs), Ontiveros .337 (29-86, 19 RBIs, 6 doubles, triple, 3 home runs), and Chavarria .326 (28-86, 24 RBIs, 10 doubles, 2 triples).

Senior Dominique Garcia, injured for part of the season, batted .368 (7-19, 6 RBIs, 2 doubles, triple) in 13 games, junior Brigid Silvester .400 (14-35, 2 RBIs, 2 doubles, triple) in 23 games, and sophomores Lanae Leonard .750 (3-4, 3 RBIs, triple) in 11 games, Hunter Lindsey .750 (3-4, 4 RBIs, 2 doubles) in six games, Candace Forgach-Aguilar .500 (1-2) in seven games, Jadyn Aguilera .500 (1-2, 3 RBIs, double) in three games, and Marissa Gallegos .250 (1-4, double) in five games.

Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Three-year letter winner Jaim’ee Rodriguez delivers a pitch during a practice session. The senior pitcher ended 2018 with a 2.58 ERA during 163 innings and a 19-12 overall record. She notched 138 strike outs, 42 walks and batted .398 (35-88) with 33 RBIs, 12 doubles, and five home runs. Rodriguez was selected 2A East Region 1st team and all-conference 2nd team in 2018.

In the circle, Rodriguez had a 2.58 earned run average and posted a 19-12 record while pitching 163 innings, yielding 156 hits, striking out 138, and walking 42.

Rodriguez received 2A all-conference 2nd team honors and Lee honorable mention, and both were named to the 2A East Region 1st team. Lee received region honorable mention as a junior.

Ontiveros and Chavarria were on the 2018 region 2nd team and Silvester listed as honorable mention.

Lee also batted .277 (18-65, 8 RBIs) while playing in 24 of 33 games in 2017 (25-7-1) and .342 (13-38, 9 RBIs) during 17 of 33 games in 2016 (22-11). Rodriguez batted a combined .263 (10-38, 4 RBIs) in 28 games and Chavarria .167 (3-18, 4 RBIs) in 18 games as freshmen and sophomores.  

The 2018 No. 4 Wildcats (20-12 overall, 13-4 seeding record, 10.8863 rating, 9-3 East Region for No. 3) bowed out of the state tourney with a 2-1 eight innings semifinals loss to eventual state champion in top-ranked Benson.

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