As Sam Sees It

Another basketball season has come and gone and now the sports fan’s attention turns to baseball, softball and track.

Winslow High School should be highly competitive in all three of those sports as well as in the less well publicized sport of golf.

The Winslow baseball team won the 3A North Region last season and suffered a tough loss in the state tournament.

Coach Art Griffith will greet an abundance of returning veterans and will again have one of the fastest teams in the state. Pitching is probably the biggest question mark. The Bulldogs have several returning hurlers who could make this a team, giving them a real shot at a state championship.

The Bulldogs will be favored to take the 3A North Region title again and an impressive non-conference schedule should prepare the team for a serious run at the state crown. The key will probably be how well the pitchers develop. It will be fun to watch the exploits of such talented speedsters as senior Lucas Armenta and junior Jordan Payne among others.

The Winslow softball team will also be defending a 3A North Region title and should have enough fire power to win the regional championship again. The Lady Bulldogs won their first game at state last year and lost in the second round 1-0 in extra innings.

Only four players graduated from the 2004 squad, but they included a 17 game winning pitcher and team MVP and the 3A North Region Player of the Year catcher.

The chances of Coach Becky Barris successfully filling those gaps look pretty good. Pitcher Briana Conatser should be ready to take over the mound duties with infielder/pitcher Alex Magana also seeing action there.

Both the baseball and softball teams will likely use a strong non-conference schedule and two regular season tournaments to prepare themselves for a run at state titles. Winslow is also fortunate to host the 3A North Region Tournaments at the end of the season. Those tournaments give the teams a taste of “must win” type games before they go to Phoenix for the really big tests.

Although both Winslow teams are favored to win their regions, they will not be without competition.

The Lady Bulldogs went undefeated in the region last season, but needed an unearned run and a shutout pitching performance to beat Monument Valley 1-0 for the championship. There will be other 3A North Region teams capable of taking the crowns Winslow players have become accustomed to wearing.

Track and field is a more varied sport and Winslow is one of the few schools in the region that is strong in most events. This year’s team will say “good-bye” to one of the finest performers ever to compete in Arizona. Senior Stephanie Garnett is a legitimate Olympic hopeful on her way to compete for Arizona State University on the collegiate level.

The Winslow golf team manages to stay competitive despite the lack of a golf facility in the community. Most of this success is due to the presence of one of the finest amateur golfers in the state and one of the best teachers. Coach Ted Pate is usually assisted by volunteer coach Dale Williams, a real student of the game and also a great teacher of the sport he loves.

Even as the school teams are changing the sports they are engaged in, the Winslow Little League is in the process of preparing for another season. Winslow has long been known as a great sports town. May it ever be so.

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