By Andrew Luberda
The Panthers baseball team has high expectations for the 2013 season. Considering the 2012 team finished the season at 18-7, runners-up in their sections, and third-seeded in the state tournament, there is plenty of work to be done. Head Coach Billy Duarte acknowledges some key players from last season were lost to graduation but believes this season’s team has a couple of players who are more than capable replacements. He believes Mario Padilla and Louie Fuentes “may make some noise for all-section (and/or) all-division honors.” According to Coach Duarte, Fuentes will play in the outfield and figures to be one of this year’s “best hitters.” Mario Padilla “plays wherever I need him and does an excellent job of doing so,” he said.
At the end of last season Coach Duarte felt the pitching staff was little banged up and the infielders were hurting. He believes those two areas are critical to having another successful season. “Staying healthy and [playing] solid defense” are keys to the 2013 season according to Coach Duarte. “Hopefully, we will have enough of a rotation to make sure our arms and backs stay healthy,” he said. “[Throwing] strikes and plays on balls you should make plays on” are also necessary components.
The final roster will be determined after the Panthers participate in the Joe S. Padilla Tournament. No matter who is named to the team, Coach Duarte’s expectations remain the same. “On the field, I expect the students to work hard, do their best, and show respect to the game, themselves, and the other team,” he stated. “Off the field, we expect the (athletes) to be students first, show respect, and, of course, be examples for the kids who someday want to be like them.” Considering Superior HS is a combined JR/SR High School, the High School student-athletes have a daily opportunity to be role models and impact younger student-athletes in a positive way.
The Panthers will begin their season vs. Miami on February 20, 2013 at Superior High School. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m. After their season opener, the Panthers will participate in a six-team field at the Joe S. Padilla Tournament beginning on Feb. 27, 2013. Please check with Superior High School for the tournament location. Superior High School is located at 100 Mary Drive – Superior, AZ 85273.