Coaching carousel continuesby Andy Morales on Nov. 30, 2011, under Sports
Eric Brock was promoted to assistant principal at Palo Verde so he handed the girls basketball over to his assistant Scott Epstein. Epstein has 6-1 Darian Saunders in the paint and Cienega transfer Alicia Jones running the offense so he is in good shape. The Titans won the preseason Boyd Baker Tournament last week.
Pusch Ridge girls soccer coach Juan Bortfeld took the Lions to a state runner-up finish last year but reportedly has work issues so the team will be led by his assistant Dane Smith.
Pusch Ridge posted a 1-1 tie against Nogales in the Brandon Bean preseason tournament.
Tony Gabusi led the Catalina baseball team to a 22-11 record and a 4A-II state championship last spring. He has since been hired to take over the program at Cienega.
Catalina graduated nine seniors from their championship season including Nicco Blank and Robby Pearson so it was a good time to make the move.
Cienega finished 16-14 under Todd Welch last year. The Bobcats only lost four seniors and have Juan Gamez returning (6 homeruns, 30 RBIs and .408 average).
Cienega made it to the second round last year as an 8 seed where they lost to the top seeded Sunrise Mountain 4-3. Cienega will now play in Division I so things may get interesting.
Scott Nielson took the Catalina softball program from a one victory team to 12 win season (12-16) in three years. He has been rewarded for his good work at a very difficult school to win at by being named the new head coach at Sahuaro.
Sahuaro was 27-5 and finished in third place last year under interim coach Don Bacon. The Cougars had no seniors on that team and they return with probably too many pitchers, too many catchers and too many athletes. It’s a problem that Nielson has never had to deal with before.
The Cougars have posted eight state championships in their history but have had to contend with the Canyon del Oro machine since their last championship in 2001. Unless CDO can find a way to reload, Sahuaro will be the team to beat if they can find team chemistry and can get past Ironwood Ridge and Salpointe. Cienega is no longer a roadblock because they moved up to D-I.
Sahuaro State Championships
Jim Higgins (1984 and 85)
Billy Lopez (1988, 89, 91, 92, 93 and 2001)
Canyon del Oro will name its new softball coach on December 7. The new coach will have a bit of work ahead of them after Kelly Fowler returned to the team and captured another state title and finished ranked fourth in the nation.
Gone are Fowler, All-American Kayla Henry (Grand Canyon), Player of the Year Mattie Fowler (Nebraska), pitcher Kiley Riaca and homerun hitter Marissa Spangler.
First Team All-American Kayla Bonstrom returns for her final season before moving on to Stanford as does Nebraska bound Sammi Noland. CDO also sports the number one recruiting prize in sophomore catcher Sammy Nettling.
More to come…..