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Wed, Feb

Playing .500 baseball so far in 2011, the Camp Verde High School baseball team took a big step in the right direction Friday, March 25, sweeping a doubleheader against visiting Mayer High School.

“We’re getting better,” second-year Camp Verde Head Coach Steve Hicks said. “We’ve got some holes to plug but there are good signs of improvement.”

The Cowboys were a notch over .500 before Friday’s doubleheader sitting at 7-6 in the standings, but two 10-run rule victories put Camp Verde at 9-6 this season.

Gavin Collins, a junior on the Camp Verde High School baseball team, pitches to a Mayer High School batter during the second game of a home doubleheader Friday, March 25.At the same time last year, Camp Verde was coming along with its record as well, but went on a tear to end the season and wound up playing for the 2A conference state title game.

“It’s baseball. You never know what can happen,” Hicks said.

In the first game Friday, senior Austin Bower toed the mound and gave the Cowboys three strong innings, giving up only two hits and two walks while striking out five.

Bower didn’t allow a run as relief pitcher Tanner Rezzonico threw the final two innings, striking out five and walking two in a 11-0 victory.

Catcher Andy Minner was 2-3 at the plate with two RBIs while shortstop Jesse Fullbright was 1-2. Third baseman Kyle Lobaugh chipped in as well, collecting two hits and three RBIs in the rout.

In game two, junior Gavin Collins would take the ball from Hicks and turned in a masterful performance, pitching the complete game while allowing only one run and striking out 10.

Camp Verde led 2-1 in the third inning but a Cody Rayburn squeeze play to score sophomore Doug Ashley gave the Cowboys all the momentum they needed to win, 11-1.

“Mayer actually played a decent game. We hit the ball well against them but we hit it right at them. We started playing small ball with that squeeze and from then on, it seemed to click for us,” Hicks said.

Minner had a big double to score a couple of runs to break the game open and Andrew Teague had two RBIs as well in the victory.

The Cowboys were in action again Tuesday, March 29, when they traveled to play cross-valley rival Sedona Red Rock High School. Both teams have met already this season with the Scorpions getting the better of Camp Verde on March 17, 9-2. Sedona is currently 8-1-1 overall this season.

Next up, Camp Verde will hit the road again Thursday, March 31, and play Northland Preparatory Academy.

First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

The Camp Verde High School track and field team is looking to pick up from where it left off in 2010, and should have the talent to do so this spring.

Sophomore Jenny Lawson jumps across the field during practice March 4. Lawson is a part of the girls track and field team for the Cowboys that could perform well this spring. The Cowboys finished fourth overall at the 1A-2A conference state meet last season.“Our girls will be competitive this year,” said Camp Verde Head Coach Lori Showers, who is entering her ninth season at the helm of the Cowboys track and field program. “Our boys are young and have some talent so we will see what happens.”

In 2010, the girls team made all the noise, finishing fourth overall at the 1A-2A Conference Track and Field State Championships in May.

Camp Verde was the only public school in the top five, giving everyone a reason to believe the Cowboys are for real.

The girls lost only one senior to graduation in Jessica Reay, making it an interesting 2011 season for the Cowboys, to say the least.

Camp Verde will have to contend with a new group of schools, however, this spring, as the Arizona Interscholastic Association realigned the schools over the summer.

The Cowboys currently sit in Division III. As an example to the changes made, rival schools Mingus Union [4A-II conference] and Sedona Red Rock [3A conference] high schools were in different conferences last season, but now all three reside in Division III.

“The changes to the regions, or divisions as it is now, will affect everyone. We are one of the smallest schools in our division. We will contend with teams that have as many as 1,400 kids in their schools,” Showers said.

Top Returners

Top returners for the Camp Verde girls include juniors Deborah Truncali and Emily Showers while senior Libby Roulette returns to compete in the triple jump.

Truncali is a distance runner and should run the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races this spring while Showers is a 4x400- and 4x800-meter specialist.

Sophomore standouts Donnie Buss and Amanda Showers return as well. Buss will be a top star in the 100-meter hurdles this spring while Showers competes in the 300-meter hurdles, the high jump and the long jump.

For the boys, four juniors will carry the load for the Cowboys this season beginning with Chris Zellner who returns to throw the shot put.

Zeke O’Callaghan returns to run the 800-meter and Cameron Stewart should join Zellner in the throwing events.

Junior Trent Fogelson returns as well but the three events he will participate in are undecided at this time, according to

Lori Showers.

Sophomore Justin Reay also returns to run the 400-meter, and both the 4x400- and 4x100-meter relay events.

Outlook

The Cowboys began the 2011 season March 2, when they traveled south to the Wrangler Invitational at Wickenburg High School.

The boys and girls both took second overall, with seven teams participating. The girls scored 123 points, only four behind first-place winner Estrella Foothills High School which had 127 while the boys had

106 points, far behind Wickenburg’s 236.

“Our girls might have won if we didn’t drop the baton in one of our relay events,” Showers said smiling.

With the new alignment this spring, the Cowboys talent may get lost in the mix with bigger schools looking to dominate the state event come May in Mesa.

In a sense, the Camp Verde High School baseball team is starting over in 2011.

This spring, the Cowboys will have a completely different look to them than a year ago at this time, having lost five seniors to graduation — all of them starters.

Two of those startersm pitcher Curtis Hawk and shortstop and team captain Mike Boler, will be sorely missed in 2011.

Both were All-Region nominees, while Boler received an All-State vote or two. But the two were so much more than that.

The five starting seniors led the Cowboys to a 21-8 season in 2010, eventually finding themselves in the 2A conference state championship game against Bourgade Catholic High School.

At the Peoria Sports Complex, the Cowboys fought hard, but the 2010 season came to an end with Bourgade Catholic celebrating a state championship.

At the time, first-year Camp Verde Head Coach Steve Hicks said no one expected the Cowboys to be in this position in the first place. And he would be right.

Turning the page on the 2010 season and looking at 2011, Hicks again thinks nobody believes in his boys.

“We hope to surprise a few people. There’s no doubt in my mind we can get there,” Hicks said in an interview Saturday, Feb. 26. “We could challenge for a title. We have a few questions on our team, just like we did last year. The boys made it a goal to get better every day last year, and this year’s group has the same attitude.”

Top Returners

Although many positions are unclear for the Cowboys in the early going, a few kids have solidified their spots from last year’s state championship run.

Senior Tanner Rezzonico should see most of his time at first base, or on the mound this season while junior Cody Rayburn should be the everyday guy in center field.

Junior Andy Minner will be behind the plate once again in 2011 and junior Gavin Collins will be one of the top pitchers for the Cowboys this spring.

Tanner Rezzonico hits one to the outfield during a preseason scrimmage against Mingus Union High School on Feb. 22. Rezzonico is one of the few returning starters from last year’s state  championship run.Collins only pitched in 2010, but should see time in the outfield this year as well.

Senior Austin Bower returns as part of the starting rotation, and should be at shortstop when not pitching.

Top Newcomers

Sophomore Jesse Fullbright will add to Hicks’ starting rotation this year, giving the Cowboys four solid pitchers entering the 2011 season.

Sophomore Kyle Lobaugh could be at third base this season while sophomore Austin Stutzman will be in the outfield somewhere, and share time at first base.

Junior Andrew Teague didn’t play much in 2010 and should be a utility man this season while senior Jake Williams will be in the infield after missing 2010.

Outlook

Hicks believes his team can compete but he’s concerned about the pitching.

“One of our questions is can our pitching hold up. If not, we’ll struggle. We hope the four pitchers we have will carry us through, and I think they can,” Hicks said.

Although the Cowboys may not reach the state championship game this season, it will be a fun team to watch. If all comes together, however,

it could be the Cowboys standing alone atop the podium in May.

Under the new direction of first-year Head Coach Kent Winslow, the 2011 Mingus Union High School baseball season is sure to be exciting.

Despite losing seven seniors to graduation including All-Region and All-State nominees Hunter Zwart and Shaun McCarty, the Marauders are looking for good things to happen this spring.

Carlos Abrigo, a pitcher for the Mingus Union High School  baseball team, throws to a Camp Verde High School hitter during a home scrimmage Tuesday, Feb. 22. The Marauders were 22-8 in 2010 and will look to improve on that in 2011.“We’re not going to do anything different than years past; the goals are the same. When I was at Prescott High School I was always impressed with how these guys went about their business. I think we’ll continue that,” Winslow said.

Mingus finished the 2010 regular season ranked No. 3 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association power point polls and was 22-8 overall.

The Marauders made it past No. 14 Seton Catholic High School in the first round of the 4A-II conference state playoffs but ran into No. 6 Liberty High School in round two, losing a close one, 7-6. Liberty eventually went on to win the state title.

Top Returners

Mingus has plenty left over in the talent pool to make a case for another 4A-II Grand Canyon Region Championship this season, and even a run in the state playoffs.

Top returners include seniors Ronald Morones, Cruz Chavez, Carson Sandoval and Mike Newhall.

Morones should start at second base this season while Chavez splits time in the outfield and at short stop. Sandoval is still recovering from his arm injury, which he suffered during football season, and should be in the outfield.

As for Newhall, he could find himself in the starting rotation and playing third base.

Junior Carlos Abrigo returns looking to pitch and play shortstop this season while junior Evan McFarland finds himself behind home plate calling pitches.

Senior Matt Chavez returns and should see time in left field and out of the bull pen while senior banger Todd Scalf should be at first base.

“These guys are learning what I’m about, and I’m learning what they’re about. It’s been a great first few weeks and the returning coaching staff has really helped me out,” Winslow said.

Top Newcomers

A few years back the Verde Valley Little League All-Stars sent a Majors team to the Arizona State Championship game, only to fall short.

The two standout performers from Ron Bright’s squad are now wearing Mingus uniforms in freshman Marshal Shill and sophomore Ulysses Islava.

“I like what I see out of these young boys; they really know how to play the game,” Winslow said.

Shill, despite being a freshman, looks like a grown-up and could challenge for a starting spot on the mound this season.

As for Islava, he could see plenty of time at the hot corner this season for the Marauders according to Winslow.

Winslow also hired Bright to coach the freshman team this season and retained previous Head Coach Bob Young. Young will be the pitching coach this season.

Outlook

If the Marauders can find their groove at the plate and keep teams from scoring runs defensively, there’s no reason Mingus fans won’t see their boys in white and red making a deep run into the state playoffs.

When 41-year-old English teacher Christian Fuller was asked to be the next head coach for a struggling golf program, his first thoughts weren’t on the downhill side of the green.

“I want to improve this golf program, get the community involved,” Fuller said, who was named head coach of the Camp Verde High School golf team over the winter.

Leading a group of young golfers for the spring 2011 season, Chris Fuller gets ready to head to Prescott on Friday, Feb. 18, as the new head coach for the Camp Verde High School golf team.Camp Verde Athletic Director Mark Showers reported the change in January that Fuller would be taking over for longtime head coach Steve Stone.

Fuller, an Akron, Ohio, native, graduated from Akron Firestone High School in 1988.

An all-sport athlete, Fuller competed in football, basketball and played well enough in baseball to be on the All-City team at catcher his junior and senior seasons.

Fuller then attended the College of Wooster and played one year of baseball before suffering a career-ending injury.

“I was behind the plate and a batter swung through and hit my glove hand. It was catcher’s interference and I broke my hand. Since then, every time I catch my hand swells up so I stopped playing,” Fuller said.

Fuller received his degree in English literature in 1992 but found himself working in sales in the wireless industry for nearly 15 years.

Fuller went back to school and got his master’s in education with a focus in language arts in 2009, hoping to catch on somewhere as a teacher and a coach.

“I decided I needed a change,” Fuller said. “I was looking at different career options and I wanted to teach and be a coach.”

Since English teachers are a dime a dozen in Ohio, according to Fuller, there were jobs in Connecticut, North Carolina, Nevada and Arizona.

Camp Verde Principal Bob Weir contacted Fuller in July 2009 to fill the open English teacher position, and within 10 days Fuller found himself in town.

In the spring of 2010, Fuller coached the Camp Verde Middle School baseball team, but was asked to stay with the high school this spring and coach golf.

“I’ve been an avid golfer since I was 10. When I was in college, I caddied at the local country club. I didn’t play in high school but that’s only because I was more into football,” Fuller said.

When he isn’t teaching English or a golf swing, Fuller finds himself spending his free time with Lisa, his wife of just over a year, and her two young boys.

The duo like to hit the movies and watch foreign films together. Fuller also likes to play Guitar Hero and Rock Band, the video games.

“I told my kids that at the high school and they give me a little crap but it’s OK. I love music. I don’t like video games, but for some reason I like Rock Band,” Fuller said.

Fuller says he can’t wait to get the season under way in a few weeks and is happy to be where he is in life.

“I thought I could have an impact on the program here at Camp Verde, which is why I took the job. I’m excited for the season to begin,” Fuller said.

The four-time defending 4A-II conference state champions went through a new experience Saturday, Feb. 12: second place.

In the first Division III Wrestling State Championships at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley this past weekend, the Marauders came one point shy of tying, and two points within claiming their unprecedented fifth straight championship.

Logan Addis, top, practices his technique with fellow Mingus Union High School wrestling teammate Dillon Lightfoot on Jan. 18. Addis finished his high school wrestling career by winning his third state championship title in Prescott on Saturday, Feb. 12.Forty-seven schools stood in the way of the Mingus Union High School wrestling team’s fight for a title, but only one found a way to beat them — Thunderbird High School.

Thunderbird scored 158.5 points, or exactly 1.0 points more than Mingus [157.5] to claim the first Division III state championship.

Also making it to the podium was Rio Rico High School, which finished a distant third place, scoring 127 points.
In fourth was Safford High School with 103.5 points and wrapping up the top five teams in the state was Amphitheater High School with 78.5 points.

Other notables included Blue Ridge High School which finished sixth overall with 60 points while old 3A conference powerhouse Payson High School finished 10th with 47.5 points.

After the Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Board made the decision to realign the schools to save money on state championship tournament costs, Mingus knew it was going to be tough to five-peat.

In the past, the more than 250 Arizona schools fought over six state championships in wrestling; now there are only four handed out by the AIA. Only about 200 of those schools actually have wrestling programs, but losing two trophies can be difficult.

The Marauders also went through a coaching change, hiring Mingus alum Klint McKean over the summer to take the reins of one of the best wrestling programs in the state, if not the country.

Despite the overhaul, the Marauders responded like the champions they are to take second overall in a much tougher field than in the past.

McKean did an excellent job taking over for longtime Head Coach Tom Wokasch according to several wrestlers and other coaches on the staff, making it an easy transition for Marauders fans.

Mingus wrestlers Logan Addis, Justin Zaske and Matt Chavez each earned an individual state championship Saturday in front of a raucous wrestling crowd in Prescott Valley.

Addis claimed the 145-pound state title, defeating Page High School product Sheldon Yellowman in the process to win gold.
Addis finished 44-3 overall this season, and is considered one of the best wrestlers to ever walk the halls at Mingus.

Mingus’ Justin Zaske took first overall in the 152-pound weight class division, defeating Brandon Bodea of Fountain Hills High School in the title match. It was only the fourth loss all season for Bodea.

As for Chavez, he claimed the 152-pound title with his win over Zach Yazzie from Higley High School.

Zaske finished 37-9 this year while Chavez was an impressive 44-2 overall in 2010-2011.

Other notables individually for Mingus included 119-pound Cody Heflin who was 30-11 overall this season. Heflin finished second overall after losing the state championship match to Greg Ornelas of Safford. Ornelas did not lose a match this season, finishing a perfect 38-0.

Hank Goettl, wrestling in the 130-pound division, lost to Rio Rico star Dakota Beach in the title match. Beach was 38-1 overall this season while Goettl was 38-8.

Dillon Lightfoot finished fourth overall in the 135-pound third-place match, losing to Brad Lindsay of Flagstaff High School to finish 40-11 overall this season.

Brandon Luttrell won his third-place match, defeating Anthony Chavez of Amphitheater to finish 16-2 overall this season.

Before 54-year-old Kent Winslow was hired in the fall to be the head coach of the Marauders baseball team, he didn’t expect to be asked to coach at all.

“I had no idea,” Winslow said with his big southwestern smile that could stretch across the Arizona desert.

Winslow looks more the part of an Old West cowboy rather than a baseball coach, or a rancher in a new wild west movie with Clint Eastwood or these days, Jeff Bridges.

“My wife got a job in Prescott so we felt the Lord was leading us back to the area and we were glad to make the trip,” Winslow said.

After Winslow changed out of his everyday clothes and into the white and red uniform of the Mingus Union High School baseball team, suddenly, he fit the part.

Head Coach Kent Winslow was hired in the fall to coach the Mingus Union High School baseball team this spring. Winslow played baseball for Grand Canyon University, Gonzaga University and Central Arizona College. Winslow will take the reins of a program that won back-to-back 4A-II state championships in 2008 and 2009.Originally from Cottonwood, Winslow spent his high school days at Buena Vista High School in Sierra Vista.

Winslow played four sports for the Colts and was a varsity letter-winner in football, basketball, baseball and even one year in wrestling.

Winslow graduated in 1974 and went on to Central Arizona College to play baseball for two years as a catcher.

This, of course, wasn’t the only stop for Winslow who made a career out of moving what seemed like every two or three years.

Winslow played one year for Gonzaga University, and one season for Grand Canyon University before receiving his degree from Northern Arizona University.

As an assistant baseball coach under Alan Flitcraft at NAU, Winslow earned his degree in physical education with a double major in industrial arts in 1980.

He taught at Santa Cruz Valley Union High School for three years, but decided to go back to school to get his masters in education.

“The list gets longer for my masters,” Winslow said with another big smile. “Hope you’re ready to write.”

Texas A&M, the University of Arizona and the University of Wyoming were just three places he ventured in six years.

Winslow finally settled down to teach and coach baseball at Salpointe Catholic High School for nearly 10 years.
Winslow came to the Marauders after leaving Casa Grand High School last year and began teaching physical education at Mingus in August.

“This seems like a nice place. I’ve been to a lot of places. It feels good. There is a tradition of excellence here. Anyone that’s coached baseball here has been a good person and I hope to add to that,” Winslow said.

When 17-year-old Camp Verde High School softball star Roque Parker signed her letter of intent Jan. 19, it was a realization of something she’s wanted for years.

“I’ve always wanted to go to school and play ball,” Parker said while sitting in a classroom going through what is to be the first of many interviews once getting to school. “I’m very excited. It’s really cool that I’m going to play college softball.”

Parker, who is originally from Camp Verde, signed to play third base and pitch for Glendale Community College.

For Camp Verde, Parker has pitched for the Cowboys over the last few years and was a big part of the 2009 team, which claimed a 2A conference state championship when she was a sophomore. Camp Verde defeated Wilcox High School, 4-2.

Roque Parker, a senior on the Camp Verde High School softball team, will play third base for Glendale Community College in 2012. Parker led the Cowboys to a state championship in 2009 and she hopes to do the same in her senior season, which begins Monday, Feb. 7.Parker also plays club softball for the Verde Valley Heat and Head Coach John Brown, who is the current head coach at Sedona Red Rock High School.

Of course, there’s more to Parker than just softball.

The Camp Verde native enjoys the hunt now and again with her father, Marlin Parker, and is currently an honor roll student with a 3.9 grade point average.

Parker is an only child, but certainly doesn’t act like it, having worked hard for everything she’s gotten.

Parker is a part of the National Honor Society as its president at Camp Verde, she is a sentinel for the local National FFA Organization, is a part of the key club and is the secretary for student council.

“I’m involved in a lot and I enjoy it. It gives me something to do,” Parker said.

Parker spends whatever spare time she has left shopping and being with her family or showing animals at the Verde Valley Fair.

After softball and getting her basic classes out of the way at GCC, Parker hopes to attend a four-year school and earn a degree in athletic training.

“I want to stay involved in sports once I’m done and athletic training is a way to do that. My dream job is to be an athletic trainer for the Denver Broncos,” Parker said with a big smile.

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