Apache Junction softball team sets its sights on playoffs

Alyx Ayers reads a memo to her teammates, Alyssa Padilla, left and Breanna Conklin, right, before the team picture day, April 5. (Arianna Grainey/Independent Newspapers)

The Apache Junction High School boys baseball team wasn’t the only group to bring a winning mentality up from Cactus Canyon Junior High School. The girls softball team also won in 2012.

“These girls are awesome to coach,” Head coach Ed Matlosz said. “Winning is contagious as you get confidence in your skills and you win, it becomes a habit. These girls have brought that with them up to the high school level.”

Coach Matlosz said the school system and team has retained a lot of the girls that were on the eighth grade team.

“I know we have choices here and we want to make sure that Apache Junction is on top of their choice list,” he said.  “The way you do that is have a competitive program, you work hard and you get results when it is needed.”

The team is 17-4 for the season with eight games left to go. As of press time the team is leading it’s section, tied with Combs in section games.

“This is a magic season, you get these every so often. 10-0 in the power points right now, 17-4 overall against very good teams we’ve played,” Coach Matlosz said. “We’re looking at continuing on all the way and host a playoff game.”

Senior Alyx Ayers, who plays catcher, third base and outfield, has been with the team since participating in a summer ball program after her seventh grade summer.

The Cactus Canyon girls team won the championship in 2012. (Special to the Independent/AJUSD)

“This team is really special because we get along really well and I can tell everybody here is in it for the same reasons,” Alyx said. “We have a lot of faith in each other that we can help each other get there.”

Alyx said that everyone on the team plays their part.

“We’re not selfish in that sense,” she said. “We know what it takes to win as a team, rather than just bulking your stats and making yourself look good, everyone knows their part.”

Senior Alyssa Padilla said her team is often overlooked.

“We are just a small bunch of girls and people really underestimate us but we really come through,” she said. “We’re supposed to be really small but we play really big.”

Senior Breanna Conklin said that everyone on the team needs to give it their all but they can do it.

“It’ll be such a wonderful feeling for us girls for the rest of our lives,” she said,“…to be able to do it with the girls we’ve grown up with is really special.”

To accomplish the team’s goal of hosting a playoff game and making it farther in the state tournament, Coach Matlosz said the team must take it game by game.

“We can’t underestimate any team on any given day. Anybody can beat you,” he said. “Washington, last night (April 4) was scrappy, we had to work hard to beat them in the five innings.”
Ending the game by the AIA run-rule decision which states, “A softball game shall end any time after five innings, or after four and one-half innings when a team is ten or more runs behind and has completed its turn at bat,” is a goal of the AJ softball team.

“The run rules are nice if your offense is clicking and defense. We have had the fortunate honors to do that a couple of times. It’s nice on your pitching staff when you don’t have to throw a compete seven innings,” Coach said.

“I hope the girls have the same goals as the coaches to, and that’s to bring home the big trophy at the end. But to get there, you have to take care of it day by day, game by game, playoff game by playoff game,” Coach Matlosz. “Since I have been the coach we have gone five times to the playoffs but we have to get over the hump of getting to the next round.”

“It would be really nice to leave a legacy like that, since it’s been so long since we have gone further than the first round, like we did last year, we lost in the first round,” Alyx said. “I just feel like this team would be the one to do it if anything.”

News Services Assistant Arianna Grainey can be reached at 623-445-2717, via e-mail at agrainey@newszap.com or on twitter at ariannagrainey

Arianna Grainey is a freelance photojournalist.

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