The Queen Creek High School softball team relied on its heavy hitting when it started the season Thursday, Feb. 23, in the Dorado Classic Tournament at the Sportspark Softball Complex in Tucson.
“Our biggest strength this year is that we have good team chemistry,” said third-year head coach Stephanie Mejia. “But we can also hit and we are fast. We have good defense and pitching.”
Coach Mejia believes the team is solid all-around and the players are well-rounded and can step up at any position. Last year, QC played in the highest division alongside DI powerhouses. The Bulldogs made it to the play-in game, but lost to No. 4-ranked Sandra Day O’Connor to miss the eight-team tournament bracket.
This year the team is back where it belongs in 5A (equivalent to what would’ve been DII last year) and are looking to make a deep run. This year the tournament will feature a 16-team single elimination bracket, with teams ranked 9-24 competing in a play-in bracket for a spot in the state bracket. If QC can finish the regular season ranked above 9, they will have a bye and await a play-in winner with home field advantage in the first round.
“The goal this season is to win our region,” said Mejia. “And then we’d like to make it past the second round of state.”
The Bulldogs played in the San Tan Region alongside Campo Verde, Williams Field, Vista Grande and Mesquite. Campo Verde was expected to be the biggest competition, finishing last year ranked no. 7 in DI, six spots above Queen Creek.
“Our senior class will be our team leaders this year including Brittaney Benavidez, Kierstin Denning, Bailey Kuehl and Maci Richardson,” said Coach Mejia. “Brittaney and Jaylei will be playing both infield and outfield, Keirsten will catch and play infield alongside Maci and Bailey Kuehl will be our starter at first base.”
The Dogs filled the rest of the infield with Laynie Brannon in the middle infield and Millie Parra at third base. Savannah Morales and Julia Heitz pitched and played some outfield, while Alex Lawson, Joey Snow and Kaylee Joyce filled in the rest of the positions in the outfield.
Check our social media pages for updates throughout the season.
Editor’s note: Jamie Morris is the staff writer from Queen Creek High School athletics department.