Three members of the Superior softball team signed their Letters of Intent during a signing event that was held at Porter’s Café on Friday, Dec. 22.
Kiki Arriola, Analysse Juarez and Tori Juarez, all seniors, will continue their academic and athletic careers in the fall at Glendale Community College after a final season at Superior High School.
Gauchos head coach Rebecca Shaw and two assistants were on hand along with a large turnout of family, friends, coaches, classmates, and teammates to witness the Lady Panthers’ fulfill a dream.
“I think they work hard and are dedicated to getting better,” Superior head coach Martin Navarrette told the Superior Sun. “There are things that are instilled in them already, that they were born with.”
Tori Juarez, was an All-State and All-Region selection after last season, hit .407 and led the Lady Panthers with 25 RBI. She also tied for the team lead in doubles with eight.
“I knew the environment was great,” Juarez said about choosing GCC. “The coaches were welcoming, the girls were nice, and it reminded me of home.”
Juarez said she wants to fulfill her prerequisites at GCC before transferring to a four-year school and earning a degree in Forensic Psychology.
“Her dedication,” Navarrette answered when asked for an attribute that will serve Tori well at the next level. “Her will also. Like Analysse, she’ll go out there to get better and fix what is not working.”
Analysse Juarez, who will study physical therapy at GCC, was an All-Region selection a year ago after hitting .291 with 13 RBI, a double and a triple. The senior catcher battled back from a significant knee injury, something that Navarrette said will benefit her in the future.
“She doesn’t give up,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of improvement over the summer; she’s stroking the ball well. Her mentality is not to quit, and that will serve her well.”
Like her teammates, Analysse felt comfortable at GCC.
“It made me feel welcome, like home,” she said. “The coaches are really hands on with the players and other members of the team said the same; they care about us. I like the coaches concern for our academic success too.”
What is Analysse most looking forward too as she transitions from high school to college?
“Being able to see the difference between high school and college,” she responded. “Getting out there more. I’m a little nervous, but it’s going to be fun.”
Kiki Arriola, one of the top returning players in Arizona, is widely considered a premier pitcher and is equally as dangerous at the plate.
The 1A Conference and East Region Offensive Player of the Year, Arriola went 15 – 4 as a junior with a 2.24 ERA. She struck out 170 hitters in just 112.2 IP, more than one hitter per inning. At the plate, Arriola hit .433 with 21 RBI, eight doubles, two triples and five homeruns.
“The environment was totally different,” said Arriola, explaining her decision to attend GCC. “The girls welcomed us, and the coaches were awesome. I just felt like that was where I belonged. As soon as I went there, I knew that’s where I wanted to go.”
According to Navarrette, Arriola has a chance to contribute right away at GCC.
“She is a phenomenal pitcher,” the Lady Panthers’ head coach said. “She pitches hard, she pitches well, and she has desire. I think she’s going to move right into college and do well. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if she goes in and is starting. She’s got the skills to do it, and I believe she will.”
Navarrette believes all three signees will leave their mark at GCC before it’s all said and done.
“They’re all going to work out great and make a difference at GCC,” he said.
Despite considering other individual offers to attend other schools, signing with GCC was a package deal for the trio, who plan to live together when school starts.
“It grew on all of us,” Tori Juarez said. “It’s better that we get to go in together as teammates.”
After moving on from a small town, there figure to be many challenges in moving away, but Superior will never be too far from the players’ hearts and minds.
“I already know I’m going to get homesick,” said Arriola, who will study Radiology at GCC. “Having Tori and Analysse there with me is really going to help.”
There remains one order of business before heading off to the next chapter of their lives. After finishing as the State Runner-Up in 2017, the Lady Panthers are aiming for a different ending in 2018.
“We fell short last year, so hopefully we take it all this year,” Arriola said. “It’s our last year, so we need to leave it all out there.”
One door closing, for sure, but the next door that is opening is only the beginning.