COTTONWOOD – With a healthy squad and now depth at the most important position, Mingus Union softball head coach John Brown thinks this can be his best Marauder team ever.
With injuries last season, Mingus Union limped to a 6-20-1 record but this year Brown said the Lady Marauders look great.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” Brown said. “We got all our injuries back and we got a bunch of kids that couldn’t play last year back and so I think we’re going to have the best team we’ve had in my coaching career here.”
This season the pitching staff, led by senior Krista Earl, has tripled in size.
“Pitching is the best I’ve seen,” Brown said. “Quite frankly, I don’t remember a time when Mingus had more than one pitcher on the softball team and this year they’ve got two and we’ve actually got a third one that can back them up if we need to. So the fact that we have depth is great.”
Brown said having multiple pitchers means they can take out hurlers that are having a bad day and use them less when they have doubleheaders and tournaments.
“We’re looking really good compared to last year,” said junior utility player Maddie Bollen. “I mean last year was really rough, we barely had a pitcher last year so we’re all stocked up with our pitchers this year so we’re looking good, defense is looking good and our bats are hot right now.”
Senior outfielder Maliah Zillmer said Mingus Union has very good defense and pretty good offense.
“We hit the crap out of the ball, we’ve got depth in pitching, we have depth on defense and quite frankly I think it’s all strengths,” Brown said when asked what the strength of the team is.
Mingus Union’s first action is a scrimmage at 3:30 p.m. at Barry Goldwater. They open the season at Combs on Thursday.
“The schedule is decent, it’s fairly competitive all the way through,” Brown said. “Our region is very competitive, Flagstaff is very competitive, Bradshaw is very competitive, we’ve got two in the region that are going to be super competitive, we play Cactus, Cactus is a very tough team so it should be a good tough season for us, but we should do well.”
The Lady Marauders’ home opener is Feb. 24 against Flagstaff. Bollen is looking for pay back after the Eagles run ruled Mingus — and then some.
“I’m going to take this game personally, and take it to heart because we lost 30-3,” Bollen said. “So that game’s really personal, I know, even for the whole team and it’s home field, so we’re really looking for a win our first game out.”
Mingus Union features two players who have signed to play college softball and Brown expects two or three more to. Earl signed with Cairn University and her battery mate, senior captain Morgan Mabery is going to South Mountain Community College.
Brown said the Lady Marauders will light up the score board.
“The offense is outstanding,” Brown said. “These girls play the best offense I think, as far a base running, being aggressive, they hit the ball very well, they can lay down bunts on a dime, so really I think you’re going to see good scoring games this year, they’re gonna be high scoring games.”
Mingus, who won the state championship in 1981 and 1995, has not made the playoffs since 2013 but looks like they could return to the big dance.
“I think we’ll make it to playoffs,” Zillmer said. “I’m pretty excited to see where we’ll go, hopefully we’ll make it far.”