By Andrew Luberda
First-year Head Coach Joseph Lopez III leads a team of 15 girls with only two returning from last season’s team. Nonetheless, Coach Lopez is optimistic as the 2013 season commences.
“I [definitely] have very high expectations and believe we will be able to compete with any team in our league,” he said.
Coach Lopez also said he was excited for the opportunity to coach such a talented team.
While the team is talented, it’s also very young. Nine seventh graders are on the team compared to six eighth graders.
Elizabeth Ochoa, Eleanna Ybarra, Julianna Ortega, Kassandra Baltierra, Macey Hernandez and Marie Moreno represent the eighth graders on the team.
The seventh graders are Alicia Arriola, Amber Alonzo, Analyses Juarez, Casandra Drennan, Jalisa Murray, Sivanna Lopez, Tatianna Babino, Victoria Juarez, and Yuvithzia Romero.
In most Jr. High and Sr. High School sports, coaching responsibilities include more than just teaching the fundamentals of the sport. Coaches of these student-athletes are teaching life skills and lessons. Coach Lopez understands and accepts those responsibilities.
“My goals for these young ladies are to develop the skills and fundamentals to help them grow into complete players,” he said. “[I want] to teach them a good work ethic on and off field, and in the classroom. I am constantly stressing how important it is for them to keep up with their grades and [to understand] softball is a privilege.”
The talent was evident in the Jr. Panthers season opening victory, as they crushed Miami, 14-1. Starting pitcher Alicia Arriola dominated Miami hitters as she allowed only one run on one hit while striking out 10 over four innings. Offensive stars for Superior were Elizabeth Ochoa and Jalisa Murray who both reached safely on each of their plate appearances. The Jr. Panthers pounded out 13 hits and played an aggressive style on the bases. Coach Lopez was especially pleased with the limited number of strikeouts by the Superior hitters in the game.
The Jr. Panthers continue their schedule at Ray Jr./Sr. HS on Mar. 20 at 4:00 p.m.