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Verde Valley Little League Commissioner Jayne Lee officially announced All-Star rosters Monday, June 20, setting the tone for what should be a solid All-Star season for young Cottonwood baseball players.

Andrew Kulis, left, scoops up a ground ball during defensive drills for the Verde Valley  All-Stars [ages 10 to 11] practice at Riverfront Park on Friday, June 17.Leading the way for Cottonwood will be the Verde Valley All-Stars [ages 10 to 11], who are coached by Pete Kelly.

Kelly believes this is one of the better teams he’s had, and he predicts a solid tournament come Friday, June 24, in Camp Verde.

“We’re looking good,” Kelly said in an interview Friday, June 17. “I think we have a really good shot of winning the district title.”

Outfielder Alissa Webb stretches for the catch during practice for the Verde Valley Juniors All-Stars [ages 13 to 14] softball team at Riverfront Park on Friday, June 17.Standouts making the All-Star team for Kelly are 11-year-olds Ben Grandy, Josh Scalf, Gus Henley, Matt Bachler, Samuel Kunze and Jose Pacheco.

Kelly’s boys are set to face the Camp Verde All-Stars this Friday at Butler Park with a first pitch start time of 7:30 p.m.

For the Verde Valley Majors All-Stars [ages 11 to 12], Creighton Kim and his group of players are looking forward to their tournament, which is slated to begin Tuesday, July 5, at Mountain Valley Park in Prescott Valley.

“We have an all-around good team. It looks to be a promising year,” second-year manager Kim said Monday.

Top players for the Majors are 12-year-olds Trever Galloway, Jordan Estrada and Bailey Pelletier while 11-year-olds Tyler Kelly and Mitchell Lindsay also made the team.

In the Minors [ages 9 to 10] division, Verde Valley sports a solid team led by 10-year-olds Chris Mathe, Justin Tanner and Evan Favorite. Head Coach Chris Taylor takes the helm for the Minors, who are scheduled to begin their tournament Friday in Chino Valley.

As for softball, the girls are just as talented as the boys, and the Verde Valley Juniors All-Stars [ages 13 to 14] are ready for action under Head Coach Kirsten Lennon.

Lennon has several solid players including 14-year-olds Audrey Tollison, Michaela Dixon and Tyler Lennon.

The Juniors begin their trek for a District 10 title Tuesday, July 5, at Riverfront Park in Cottonwood. Verde Valley is scheduled to play the Wickenburg All-Stars on Tuesday with a first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m.

The Cottonwood Club Swim team began its summer season just a few weeks ago, with nearly 115 kids signing up to compete in June and July.

Although the Clippers haven’t had a meet yet, second-year Head Coach Erin Estes believes her kids are ready.

Alison Bauers, 14, works on her breaststroke while swimming laps at the end of practice in the Cottonwood Community Pool on Tuesday.“They are excited. They’ve been working hard in the pool and their techniques have improved. We have a ton of kids out this summer and their hard work will soon pay off,” Estes said in an interview Tuesday, June 14.

The Clippers begin their season at the Payson Invitational on Saturday, June 18. After Payson, Cottonwood will have about a week to prepare for the Sedona Splash, which begins Saturday, June 25, and runs through Sunday, June 26.

It is the first two-day event for the Sedona Club Swim team, since the city wrapped up its new pool project in May. Sedona now has eight competition lanes with starting blocks, timing pads and enough deck space for several teams and their fans.

After Sedona, the Clippers travel to Kingman to participate in the Kingman Invitational on Saturday, July 9. Cottonwood will be in Prescott on Saturday, July 16, for the Prescott Mountain Splash.

Estes reported some of the swimmers for Cottonwood will also be in Kingman on July 16 for the Kingman U.S.A. Swim.

Cottonwood winds down the summer schedule with a mile swim fundraiser Monday through Wednesday, July 18 to 20, and wraps up by hosting the Verde Valley Invitational on Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30.

“We’ve got plenty to do this summer and we’re all excited to see how it goes,” Estes said.

Some of the top swimmers for the Clippers this summer include 17-year-old Collin Mount, who is a solid individual medley swimmer, while 16-year-old Ryan Adams is a beast in the 100-meter breaststroke and freestyle events.

Dylan Wilber, 15, has a goal this summer to have a sub 1-minute time in the 100-meter breaststroke while 13-year-old Shawn Williams is going to be an excellent 50- and 100-meter butterfly swimmer.

“These kids are all good. They all are individual medley swimmers, making them well rounded in the pool,” Estes said.

For the girls, 16-year-old Shannon Knowles, also known as “Cannon” by her teammates, is good in the butterfly and breaststroke events while 17-year-old Daniele Castillo is solid in the freestyle.

As for 17-year-old Kyla Furey, she splits her time in the pool and with the whistle as a student coach.

Mikiel Block, 17, sucks in a quick lungful of air between butterfly strokes while practicing with other Clippers team members Tuesday, June 14. With over 100 kids in the pool, the Clippers have four separate teams this summer: the “A” team, the “B” team, the “C” team and the “A-Prep” team, which is for the very young swimmers learning what it’s like to be in the program.

“The A-Prep team has worked out great for us. It’s new, and we use it to show kids what it’s like to be on the A team,” Estes said.

For the Clippers, the Verde Valley Invitational is probably the most important meet of the summer, according to Estes. All of the other meets work up to one big one at the end of July and this summer, the Clippers want to win the title.

Mingus Union High School junior Torey Braly did some amazing things on the athletic field this past school year, and she hopes her senior season will be even better.

Torey Braly won the 300-meter hurdles event at the Division III State Championships in Mesa this past May. Braly was a first-team All-State selection in the 300-meter hurdles.Once a three-sport athlete, the 17-year-old Braly decided to leave cross country behind her and concentrate on soccer and the track and field program.

It couldn’t have worked out better for Braly, who has become one of the best soccer players in the state in any classification, and one of the top hurdlers in Division III.

As for the three-sport girl, Braly said she doesn’t miss cross country too much, but does think it’s easier participating in only two sports.

“Two sports is nothing,” Braly said May 25 near the football field during an interview at Mingus. “I had to crack down and focus on two sports. I wanted to be great in two sports.”

During the winter, Braly absolutely shattered the school scoring record, netting 39 goals and leading her Marauders to a second straight 4A-II Grand Canyon region title.

“I told coach not to tell me. I didn’t want to know how many goals I was scoring because I didn’t want it to become about me,” Braly said.

Mingus qualified for the state tournament as a No. 3 seed, but lost to rival Flagstaff High School, the team it beat for the region title, in the state semifinals in overtime, 1-0.

Torey Braly scored 39 goals for the Mingus Union High School girls soccer team this past season.As a sophomore, Braly led the Marauders to a 1-0 win over Flagstaff in the state title match in 2009-2010.

“It was a blessing to win a state championship in high school. I mean, that’s what high school athletes strive for, to win a state title,” Braly said.

At the end of this season, Braly was awarded the Grand Canyon region most valuable player award. Along with receiving a first-team All-State selection, Braly was named player of the year in the 4A-II.

Of course, soccer isn’t the only sport Braly’s mastered so early in her athletic life. Competing in the hurdles events for the track and field program at Mingus has become a focus of hers as well.

“To be a good hurdler is a blessing,” Braly said.

This spring, Braly finished first overall in the 300-meter hurdles in Mesa with a 46.14 time, claiming an individual state championship for the Marauders and a first-team All-State selection.

“I love the 300 hurdles. Being in my own head for 46 seconds or so is a challenge,” Braly said with a big smile.

Junior Torey Braly was the 4A-II conference player of the year in soccer this past winter, and was a state champion in the 300-meter hurdles this spring. Braly is already getting looked at to play soccer at Northern Arizona University come 2012-2013.Braly was second in the 100-meter hurdles with a 15.83 time, and ran a leg in the 4x400-meter relay event with her teammates. The two performances earned her second-team All-State honors in the respective events.

The young superstar in the making attributes her success to her older sister, Deserta Braly, who wasn’t a bad soccer player herself and was a kicker on the Mingus football team.

“She’s helped me a lot over the years. It’s hard that she’s not here now because I’m so used to her helping me. She showed me how to do the hurdles when I started in fifth grade,” Braly said.

During her spare time, Braly works at the Cottonwood Recreation Center as a lifeguard at the community pool, and she attends plenty of soccer camps in the summer.

She also likes to hang with friends and do lots of swimming when she’s not working as a lifeguard.

For her immediate future, Braly said she’ll continue to work hard at her two sports while keeping her grade point average at 4.0. As for the distant future, Braly has a good idea what’s in store for her.

The Northern Arizona University women’s soccer program is recruiting her heavily to attend NAU after she graduates in May 2012.

“It’s not official, of course, but I like it up there, and it’s something I want to do, which is play soccer in college,” Braly said.

The Mingus Union High School softball team lost in its season finale Tuesday, May 3, as top-ranked Shadow Mountain High School steamrolled the Marauders, 14-3.

Shadow Mountain was a perfect 17-0 coming into Tuesday’s affair.

“They’re 17-0 for a reason,” Mingus Head Coach Heather Wacker said. “We stuck with them for a while but came apart in the end.”

Mingus Union High School softball players welcome teammate Cassie Norman, fourth from right, to home plate after she hit one over the fence during a home game against Shadow Mountain High School on Tuesday, May 3.After four innings of play, Mingus trailed 5-3 thanks to a big two-run home run by sophomore catcher Cassie Norman in the bottom half of the fourth.

Sophomore starting pitcher Angelina Saucedo didn’t get out of the third inning for the Marauders, pitching only 2? innings while allowing six runs.

Wacker had to throw freshman Ari Jaraczewski to the wolves Tuesday; Jaraczewski allowed eight more runs to cross the plate in the loss.

“She’s just not ready for that level of ball yet,” Wacker said.

With the loss, Mingus wraps up its regular season with a 13-14 [4-4, 4A-II Grand Canyon] overall record.

Although the Arizona Interscholastic Association power point scheme isn’t an exact science, the Marauders should sit at No. 10 when it’s all said and done.

If Mingus, which was 11-6 in AIA power point games this season, is the No. 10 seed heading into the 4A-II conference state playoffs, they would face No. 7 Douglas High School in round one.

The first round of the state playoffs is scheduled for Friday, May 6. The Marauders will have to travel to Douglas [15-3] since first- and second-round games are hosted by the higher seed. The second round is set for Tuesday, May 10.

First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.

State semifinal action begins Thursday, May 12, at Rose Mofford Softball Complex in Phoenix, where the rest of the state tournament will remain. The title game will be Saturday, May 14.

If the Marauders are lucky and good enough to get past Douglas this Friday, Mingus will more than likely have to travel to No. 2 Notre Dame Preparatory Academy on Tuesday.

First pitch would be at 4 p.m.

Notre Dame is currently 17-1 overall this season and should have no problem with possible No. 15 seed Shadow Ridge High School on Friday.

The Mingus Union High School girls basketball team began its summer schedule Monday, June 6, with two losses to cross-valley rivals in Camp Verde.

On the first of four Monday night leagues in June, the Marauders brought only eight players but played tough against Camp Verde and Sedona Red Rock high schools.

Micah Swenson, who will be entering his third year as head coach of the Marauders come the first day of practice for the 2011-2012 season Monday, Oct. 31, believes his kids played well this week.

Desi Ortiz, right, goes up for a layup during practice Friday,  June 3, with the Mingus Union High School girls summer basketball team. Ortiz and the rest of the Marauders are looking to get better this June during the summer season.“We brought a few young kids, and we only had eight, but we’re trying some new things, and the girls are responding well. They improved greatly between games one and two,” Swenson said in a telephone interview Tuesday, June 7.

Most of the 2010-2011 team, which went 6-15 overall, returns this summer looking to make up for the last couple of seasons. Mingus has missed the 4A-II conference state playoffs in each of the last two years after making the state semifinals in 2008-2009.

Under Will Rider, the Marauders made the state playoffs three years in a row, culminating with the group that rode Cinderella’s slipper all the way to the final four in 2008-2009 before losing to No. 1 Page High School, 66-33.

Since then, the Marauders haven’t sniffed a playoff berth but Swenson is eager to change that. Come November, Mingus will begin a new journey as the Arizona Interscholastic Association placed the Marauders in Division II [Section II] for 2011-2012. All conferences and regions ceased to exist in May.

Returning players this summer include juniors Skyler Storie, Seairah Ebert and Torey Gillies while seniors Taylor Jochim, Joni Olson, Lindsey Koeppe and Desi Ortiz are back as well.

The Marauders have a few young players in the gymnasium as well this summer, including sophomores Angel Chavez and Danielle Valenzuela.

Freshman standout guard Angelina Ravo is new to the squad but Swenson said she is already one of the most talented players in the program.

Mingus lost only two players to graduation this year, Kayla Storie, who signed a letter of intent to play outfield for Glendale Community College next spring, and Shaylene Martinez.

Swenson and his Marauders will look to make the state playoffs this coming season, but he believes a lot depends on how quickly the players learn things this summer.

Mingus is scheduled to participate in the Badger Invitational Tournament at Prescott High School on Friday and Saturday, May 10 and 11.

Mingus is scheduled to see Prescott along with Bradshaw Mountain and Kingman high schools. Mingus will play Sedona and Camp Verde as well.

The Marauders will play at Coconino High School on Monday, June 13, travel to Sedona on Monday, June 20, and wrap up summer league play Monday, June 27, at home in Cottonwood.

The athletic department at Mingus Union High School officially announced its spring sports awards Tuesday,

Courtney Hageman, seen here talking with Mingus fans at Mesa Community College on May 13 in the Division III State Championships, earned first-team All-State honors for her performance in the pole vault event. Hageman finished first overall with a 10-foot, 6-inch vault.May 24, handing out several honors to Marauders players for a job well done this season.

In track and field, the Marauders had two athletes finish high enough in their respective events to earn first-team All-State honors in junior Torey Braly and Courtney Hageman.

Braly finished first overall in the 300-meter hurdles event at Mesa Community College on May 14 with her 46.14 time, while Hageman won the pole vault event with a 10-foot,

6-inch vault.

Braly earned second-team All-State honors with teammates Annie Ngon, Delaney Scanlan and Juliette Friedland for their performance in the 4x400-meter relay event.

Braly was also a second-team All-State performer in the 100-meter hurdles, finishing second overall with a 15.83 time.

Erick Quesada was the top lead-off man for the Marauders this season and earned first-team All-Region honors. Quesada led the Mingus baseball team with 46 hits and 18 stolen bases.In softball, Mingus had an outstanding season thanks to Kayla Storie, Cassie Norman and Torey Gillies, who were voted first-team All-Region performers in the 4A-II Grand Canyon this season.

Norman hit .393 with four home runs and 32 RBIs while Storie and Gillies each tied for the team lead in hits with 38. Gillies led the team in doubles with 10 and had two home runs and 26 RBIs. Storie hit .396 on the season and scored 23 runs.

Lashea Taylor, Angelina Saucedo and Kalina Boysen each earned second-team All-Region awards, Mingus Head Coach Heather Wacker announced, while Ari Jaraczewski was honorable mention.

Joni Olson received the Grand Canyon sportsmanship award, while Taylor Brott was the region’s top academic player.

As for the baseball team, first-year Mingus Head Coach Kent Winslow was proud to add a few players from his team for region selections.

Senior Erick Quesada and Carlos Abrigo were selected first-team All-Region players for their performance this season.

Quesada led the Marauders in 2011 with 46 hits, hitting .446 on the season to go along with his three home runs and 21 RBIs. Quesada also led the team in runs scored with 33 and stolen bases with 18.

Torey Gillie was selected as a first-team All-Region performer this season in the 4A-II Grand Canyon.Abrigo wasn’t bad himself, hitting .365 this season and finishing second on the team in hits with 38. Abrigo led the Marauders in home runs with six, and was second on the team in RBIs with 27.

Receiving second-team All-Region awards for the Mingus baseball team were Todd Scalf, Ronald Morones, Evan McFarland, Cruz Chavez and Matt Chavez. Mike Newhall received an honorable mention award.

The Mingus Union High School boys tennis team continued to roll Tuesday, April 12, defeating rival Flagstaff High School on its own home court, 7-2.

The victory over the Eagles gives Mingus a perfect 8-0 record in match play this spring, with only three matches to go before state at the end of April.

“This was a big win for us,” Mingus Head Coach Jeff Knight said Tuesday after his team’s victory. “It’s surprising how well we’re doing. We just keep getting better and better. We are playing well right now.”

Mingus Union High School tennis player Austin Strobel returns hits from a Flagstaff High School player during a home match Tuesday, April 12.The “surprising” comment is an understatement by Knight, who lost one of the state’s best players in Alexander Lineberry to graduation last season.

Mingus wasn’t expected to be great this season, but the Marauders might actually be better than last year from top to bottom.

Tuesday’s match revealed a potential problem for the Marauders, however, as No. 1 player Andrew Hickey had to forfeit his singles match against Flagstaff.

Knight admitted Hickey has a slight wrist injury, and the coaching staff decided not to push him as he continues to heal.

“We think he just needs a few days and he’ll be back out there,” Knight said.

As for the No. 2 player, Jonathon Witt managed to get a victory over his opponent,6-3, 6-2, while teammate Austin Strobel won his match, 6-2, 6-1.

Surprising freshman standout Talon Walz was impressive Tuesday as well, defeating his opponent, 6-3, 6-0.

At No. 5, Logan Kitchen had the other loss for Mingus, dropping his singles match, 7-6, 6-4.

Scott King at No. 6 won his match, however, defeating his opponent, 6-2, 7-6 [7-5], to give the Marauders a 4-2 lead.

In doubles play, Hickey did manage to play with Witt as the pair earned a win, 8-3.

Kitchen and Walz paired up to get an 8-6 win, something Knight called “a huge win for them.”

Finally, Strobel and King teamed up to defeat the No. 3 doubles team from Flagstaff, 8-2.

“I think we surprised Flagstaff a little as to how good we played. I don’t think they expected us to beat them,” Knight said.

In continuing the conversation about Hickey’s wrist, Knight did say Canaan Doering would step in and play singles for the Marauders if Hickey was unable to go over the next few matches.

Mingus has three matches remaining on the regular season schedule, the first of which comes Thursday, April 14, against Shadow Mountain High School at home. The first match is scheduled to begin at3:30 p.m.

Mingus will host Bradshaw Mountain High School on Tuesday, April 19, in its last home match of the season. The Marauders will travel south and play Sunnyslope High School on Wednesday, April 20, in their season finale.

The 4A-II conference team state championships are scheduled to begin Monday, April 25.

Mingus will also play singles and doubles individually in the Division III State Championships, which are set to begin Friday, April 29.

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