With a cafe macciato sitting steaming on her desk, I walked in and helped myself to a spot on Coach Tonya Medders couch in Building G facing the Vaqueras softball field.
"Is that for me?" I asked.
"Yes it is, have at it."
Delivered as promised. I love that. I love Starbucks and I really can't think of anything more fun on a beautiful 68 degree day winter day in the desert, on a beautiful campus, with nothing really to do, than have a sit-down with a cool coach who's not in a hurry and just talk about softball.
|Signal Peak View-Central Arizona College|
My old friend Frank Adamek once told me how he loved women's softball because they seemed to have so much fun and as far as team attitude goes, they put men's sports to shame. About an hour later, I was totally the richer about the softball world and especially about the Vaqueras for 2015.
The first thing I found out is that the couch I was sitting on was a couch many players sat on before, a therapeutic couch. You can imagine the head-to-heads the head softball coach has had (and will have) with twenty-three 18-year old just-now-turned college girls. **grinn**
"We're gonna be good," Coach said right up top, "as soon as I can get the administration down and get the system in place."
I mentioned that her 2015 Vaqueras are currently ranked #25 in the NJCAA Division I December rankings.
"I hadn't noticed."
I always thought that rankings were a good thing to not pay attention to because all of that stuff can get in your head, so I always respected a coach who truly didn't pay attention to "that sort of thing". "That sort of thing" is a phrase NC State head baseball coach Elliot Avent uses for media distractions he has endured for his some fifteen years as the pilot of the terrific baseball program in Raleigh, NC.
"Brook Burchfield (IF-OF) and Bailey Mabery (OF)" Coach mentioned when I asked her if there were any natural leaders on this year's Vaqueras team.
"Aside from being really good players, they lead by example and it seems like they have all their parts in place. I just let them go."
Both are sophomores, meaning essentially seniors, since Central Arizona is a two-year program. These two seem to be the Vaquera's stand-outs for this 2015 season, Coach Medders' first full season as she replaced Sandra Wente who left for Texas with her husband Jon. Jon took a pitching coach position in Texas at UT-Arlington after nine years at Central Arizona and WHAT a nine years! Cat Moreno is her assistant coach and they are joined by long-time softball enthusiast Dewight Byrom who is pretty much a bench coach and all-around friend/consultant of this winning program.
I had watched this Vaqueras team play Pac 12 giants ASU a few times in October and November of the fall season and one of the times Coach Medders' team gave the Devils a run by losing 16-1.
I watched at least five college teams play this perennially nationally ranked NCAA powerhouse this fall and none played them better than CAC. Sabrina Jimenez pitched an unbelievable game getting ground-out after ground-out with her terrific drop pitch. The Sun Devils scored eight runs in one inning off a relief pitcher so the score was worse than the game.
Hear me when I say, the Scottsdale's and the Pima's and Yavapai's couldn't keep the Sun Devil sluggers under 25 runs a game, and they sure as heck couldn't even score one of their own.
Coach is a softball girl through and through-out, she's played her whole life with her softball family of sisters and coached and played at Berry College outside of Atlanta, so this is her life. I am so durned jealous. She has inherited a top Division I NJCAA program and they're "gonna be good" again this year and it seems she isn't feeling the pressure. Watch her coach a game, smiles and smiles.
January 11th the girls return after the holidays break, signing day is January 15th, and the Vaqueras then head off to Las Vegas for an NJCAA season-opening tournament to kick off the 2015 season.