By KYLE MCDANIEL
Coming into the 2017-2018 season, softball coach Armando Quiroz and the Aztecs have high hopes.
With eight returning starters and 11 new players, they will look to do better than the two straight losses that knocked the team out of the playoffs last year.
If the Aztecs want to top last season, Pima Community College needs to make West Campus a place like McKale Center, because 17-9 is solid, but it’s not the best. With all the experience coming back, however, that record should improve.
The Aztecs’ season began in Las Vegas at the College of Southern Nevada Kickoff Classic, where the team played five games in two days.
Jan. 26: Game 1: PCC 3, College of Southern Idaho, Game 2: PCC 5, Snow College 10, Game 3: PCC 4, Utah State Eastern 1
On Day 1, Pima went 2-1, winning its first and third game. The star of the show in the first game was freshman pitcher Paige Adair, who threw a complete game with only 2 earned runs, while striking out 10 and adding an RBI of her own.
Next on the docket was Snow College. Heading into the fifth inning and losing 4-3, Pima was hoping for a quick 3-out inning. Snow College had other ideas, as the team added 3 runs to take a 7-3 lead.
The Aztecs would add 2 more, but Snow again plated 3 more runs to end the game. Sophomore MaryAlys Julian went 2 for 3 with two RBIs, with freshman Alese Casper taking the loss, giving up 10 runs on 11 hits in six innings, while striking out 4.
With the third game looking like it was heading to extra innings, the Aztecs belted in three runs to seal the victory. Adair struck out 17 and allowed only 1 unearned run on 2 hits.
Sophomore Megan Flores went 2 for 3 with an RBI and run scored.
Jan 27: Game 1: PCC 8, Salt Lake Community College, Game 2: PCC 7, College of Southern Nevada 2
Leading 7-2 in the top of the seventh inning, things were looking good for the Aztecs over No. 2 Salt Lake CC, but 4 errors later, the score was even. Pima wasn’t going to let the win slip away that easily as Julian smacked a walk-off RBI double in the bottom of the seventh.
Edith Prieto went 2 for 4 with 3 RBIs and also scored a run. Adair again stole the show, with a complete game, allowing 2 earned runs on 7 hits and 6 strikeouts.
Heading into the third inning, Pima held a slim 1-0 lead over Southern Nevada. Freshman Mya Cabral stepped up with a 2-run RBI double. To add an extra cushion for victory, Flores hit an RBI single in the next inning.
Cabral would go 3 for 4 with 2 doubles and 2 RBIs, while Adair again tore it up on the mound with yet another complete game and improving to 4-0 as the starter. She allowed 2 earned runs on 5 hits, with 12 strikeouts.
Pima finished the tournament with a 4-1 record.
Jan 30: Game 1: PCC 6, Arizona Western College 0, Game 2: F/ 9 Innings, PCC 8, Arizona Western College 11
Pima opened ACCAC play with a double-header against Arizona Western College. The game didn’t take long to have its first runs as sophomore Sierra Gentry hit a 3-run moonshot. Cabral help pad the lead in the fourth inning with an RBI double.
Adair would improve to 5-0 after throwing a complete game shutout, with 3 hits and 8 strikeouts. Cabral had another great hitting day as she went 3 for 3 with two RBIs and 2 runs scored.
In the second game of the double header, Pima held a 7-3 lead, but the Matadors came back to tie the game. In the ninth inning, Arizona Western added 3 runs, putting the team in position for victory. However, the team would need a diving catch with bases loaded to seal the win.
Prieto went 1 for 3 with 3 RBIs and Sierra Gentry went 2 for 4 with RBI. Casper took the loss in a relief effort to go 0-2 for the season, as she gave up 5 runs (3 earned) on 5 hits.
Feb. 1: Game 1: F/6 Innings PCC 11, College of Southern Idaho 1, Game 2: PCC 5, College of Southern Nevada 1, Game 3: PCC 2, Luna CC 0
The Aztecs were in Yuma for three games at the Great Western Shootout, and in the first game they came out firing.
Having a lead 4-1 in the sixth inning over Southern Idaho, Pima would score 7 runs to end the game via mercy rule.
Flores was a catalyst for the big lead going 2 for 4 with 4 RBIs. Sophomore Chandler Arviso went 4 for 4 with 2 runs scored. Adair once more threw a complete game, giving up one earned run on 9 hits and 6 strikeouts.
In Game 2, the Aztecs faced a similar opponent in Southern Nevada. The Aztecs would score 1 run in three straight innings to take a 3-0 lead into the sixth, where they would add 2 more.
Alyssa Smith went 2 for 3 with RBI double and runs scored, while freshman Maria Vanezza-Caldera would also go 2 for 3 with three RBIs.
Casper would get her first victory of the season while pitching a 1-run complete game, allowing 4 hits and 6 strikeouts.
The last game of the day was Luna Community College, which Pima would squeak by 2-0. The stars of the game were Casper and Flores, who both went 2 for 3 and combine for 2 RBIs.
Adair would win her second game of the day to keep her streak going. She only allowed 3 hits while striking out 10.
Feb 6: Game 1 PCC 8, Mesa Community College 0 Game 2 PCC 3, Mesa Community College 7
Pima is now 2-2 in ACCAC play after a series split with Mesa CC. Thanks to Adair and Prieto, the Aztecs handed the Thunderbirds their first loss of the season.
Prieto went 4 for 4 with 3 doubles, 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored. And Adair was not having it, throwing her third complete game shutout of the season, allowing 2 hits with 8 strikeouts.
The Aztecs weren’t as lucky in Game 2 as they lost a close one. Mesa took a commanding 6-0 lead in the second inning. Cabral cleared the bases with a double to cut the lead in half, but that’s where the comeback ended.
Casper would take the loss in the game, pitching 1⅓ innings and giving up 6 runs on 5 hits. Adair would pitch in a relief effort, giving up 1 run.
Feb. 10: at Yavapai College double-header, 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
Feb. 13: at Gateway CC, double-header, 6 p.m., 8 p.m.
Feb. 17: at Central Arizona College, double-header, noon, 2 p.m.,
Feb. 20: at Eastern Arizona College, double-header, noon, 2 p.m.