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Diamonds in the rough

Pahrump Youth Softball Association coach Rich Lauver has been grooming his travel team for the past couple of seasons, playing them most of the year for the past couple of seasons. The PYSA team has won many tournaments and now some of these kids are freshmen and are ready to play ball for the Trojans.

For Trojans softball coach Eli Armendariz, the whole spring has been like finding rare diamonds in a grassy field.

Armendariz has been excited by the addition of new talent to the team.

“I have three freshmen that have made the varsity team,” he said. “Some of the incoming freshmen that should get playing time are Skyler Lauver, Ashleigh Murphy and Terrena Martin.”

Trojans softball in general returns this year with a lot of experience and depth in skilled positions.

“We’ve got players that just don’t play one position, but can play more than one and have no problem moving around,” Trojans softball coach Armendariz said. “In addition, all my infielders are faster and we hope to steal more bases this year.”

Senior third baseman Leanne Kaiwi agrees with her coach.

“The middle of the infield has gotten a lot faster and their range is larger,” she said. “Our arms are a lot stronger too.”

The mound also will return some experienced pitchers. Along with last year’s starter Amaya Mendoza, Armendariz is looking at Kaiwi and Krista Toomer.

“My pitching has gotten faster and more accurate,” Mendoza said. “I feel there will be a lot more ground balls this year and so as long as there is defense, we should win a lot more games.”

Mendoza had great placement with her pitches her sophomore year and this meant the ball was hit on the ground a lot.

With a lot of talent to choose from and only nine positions on the field, it means the coach will have a tough decision to make on who will start.

“There is a lot of competition at each position and I am glad the girls know this,” he said. “It makes it easier as a coach.”

Senior Jordan Egan will fuel the Trojans bats with her power this year. She is one of the few girls on the team with the long ball capability.

“For a lot of the girls the hitting has improved just in the last couple of weeks,” Egan said. “We have a lot of good coaches helping out with that. We have a lot of new girls on the team that will be beneficial to the team. There is Skyler Lauver, Ashleigh Murphy and Terrena Martin and they have really good arms. I feel like it is a good season and everyone will benefit the team in some way.”

The good news about Egan is she has a completely clean bill of health. Last year she was hampered by a shoulder injury, but she says that is all behind her.

“I was out before spring break last season and I only played 25 percent of the time,” Egan said. “I am back and healthy and I just want to go.”

Senior Jill Smith was also injured last year and says the team is different this year. Smith finds herself competing for a spot at shortstop that was hers when she was a sophomore, but she was not at all down about competing.

“Everyone is excited and a little pumped up this year,” she said. “Everyone has a positive attitude, and we are just really driven to go to state. It is extremely competitive now for a spot. Everyone is working really hard and I love the competition.”

Of course, the Trojans are excited also because their league has changed. They are now in a division without league rival Faith Lutheran, Spring Valley and Sierra Vista. Spring Valley topped the division last year, Faith was in second and Sierra Vista was third. The Trojans finished in fourth place last year.

The new league will be made up of Cheyenne, Desert Pines, Mojave, Sunrise Mountain and Western.

The Lady Trojans are on the road for their first games of the season this weekend at the Colorado River Invitational. They return home on Tuesday for their home opener against Moapa Valley at 3:30 p.m.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com

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