The Superior softball team recently won its second state title in four years, claiming the 2015 championship in addition to last month’s triumph. During the past four years, Superior has made three appearances in the State Championship game and reached the semifinals in the other.
Between the Pantherettes’ most recent titles, the Ray Lady Bearcats won back-to-back state championships in 2016 and 2017.
San Manuel, under the leadership of Deanne Brewer, made three-straight trips the State Championship game from 2013-15, wining back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014.
For nearly two decades, Hayden was at the top of the softball state hierarchy, wining four-straight titles (1986-89) and appearing in five championship games between 1997-2002.
Superior head coach Martin Navarrette took over the Pantherettes program in 2014 and led his team to the playoffs every year since. He envisioned building a program that’s turned into one of the state’s most successful.
Navarrette executed his plan for long-term success.
“From Little League all the way up we’ve been with these girls,” the two-time State Champion head coach recently told Copper Area News. “I’ll tell you right now, softball is on everybody’s mind in Superior, starting with the little girls coming up, and that’s going to make a big difference.
“They keep playing, moving up through the ranks, and (a state championship) is the result we’re going to get in the end.”
San Manuel, Ray and Superior have seen several players move on to the next level, including Lyana Waddell, Stormee Galka, and Gabby Salcido. Most recently, Ray’s Janae Ruiz, and Superior’s Kiki Arriola, Tori Juarez and Analysse Jaurez will play at the next level.
Sending players to college attracts more players to build the programs.
“Absolutely, they want to be a part of it,” Navarrette said. “They want that championship too. That’s all anyone talks about. I’ve got eight-graders telling me right now, ‘Hey Coach, let’s do it. Let’s get started now.’”
The players take pride in their performance, especially in front of those fans across the state who might not be aware of the recent dynasty-type of success achieved around the Copper Corridor.
“I think we made our statement this year and now people know who we are,” Superior senior-to-be Anisah Cardenas said.
Navarrette said players want “that championship.”
One of his own validated his statement.
“I always dreamed about winning a state championship,” said Lindsay Ketron, who was named to the AIA 1A All-Conference 1st Team as a junior. “But I never thought it was going to be one of the things I was going to be a part of until I came to Superior.”