By JASON WEIR
With the goal of a national championship, the Pima Community College softball team will open its 2016 season on Jan. 29 at the CSN Kickoff Classic in Henderson, Nev.
Head coach Armando Quiroz notes the Aztecs are freshmen-heavy, with 11 true freshmen and one red-shirt freshman.
That means the Aztecs will look to their sophomores for leadership. Two of those sophomores, shortstop Kalynn “Kewi” Martinez and center fielder Araceli “Celi” Peralta, say they’re ready for the role.
“I know how things are here,” Martinez said.
Adds Peralta: “I am a leader by example. We complement each other.”
The Aztecs gained experience at winning last fall, when they participated in a University of Arizona invitational tournament.
Pima went 16-1, with the lone loss coming against host UA. Two divisional opponents, Arizona Western College and Central Arizona College, also played in the tournament.
The first goal of the 2016 season is hosting and winning the regional playoffs, Peralta said.
Host Phoenix College eliminated the Aztecs at regionals last year, after Pima won four of five regular-season matchups.
It’s obvious that fact is not lost on the team. Just mentioning Phoenix College generates reactions from both coaches and players.
“Us and them are the bar,” Quiroz said.
Martinez mentioned the rival when listing team goals.
“We got to beat Phoenix College,” she said.
The Aztecs will get their first chance at Phoenix College on Feb. 20.