Ten Lady ’Devs back from 2018: First-year head coach Watson ‘excited,’ yet ‘focusing’ on performing tasks with high quality
MOHAVE VALLEY — The Lady Dust Devils advanced into the state semifinals for the third season in a row, and the River Valley High School squad failed to make it to the 3A Arizona Interscholastic Association Softball Championships final during that span.
The 2019 Dust Devils are returning pretty much their entire team, and — who knows — the fourth time might be a charm for first-year River Valley head coach Kathleen Watson’s team.
“We are excited to return 10 players from last season’s team,” Watson said. “We have more experience this year and we are focusing on performing all tasks with high quality.”
Senior third baseman Ryann Glenn and shortstop Tianna Williams are leaders offensively and defensively, Watson said. They will be “great additions” to Creighton University and Fresno State University next year.
Glenn earned a scholarship to Creighton and Williams to Fresno State, as the two AIA 3A First-Team All-State products will be reporting to their respective Division I squads late this summer.
The Dust Devils finished 26-5 overall, according to MaxPreps, which included all of their games last season.
River Valley’s record was 17-0 overall, 10-0 in conference and 10-0 in the 3A West Region and were ranked No. 1 for almost the entire season in 2018, according to aiaonline.org’s power point ranking, which includes AIA-sanctioned games.
In addition to Glenn and Williams, several other stalwarts are returning.
Senior catcher Brianna Bryant, who earned AIA 3A West Region Defensive Player of the year and garnered first-team all-state honors, is back.
“She has a great relationship with the pitchers and works well behind the plate,” said Watson about Bryant. “She’s not afraid to throw runners out and she delivers with her bat on offense.”
Watson said she expects sophomore Chloe Hibbard and senior Kortney Fletcher to command the circle this year.
“They have another year of experience under their belts and I expect them to be mentally and physically tough,” said Watson about her two right-handed hurlers.
Sophomore second baseman Veronica Gonzales has another year of “maturity, experience and strength, and she will hold down second base for us again,” Watson said.
“I am expecting her to produce offensively in key situations,” she added. “Olivia Yoney is a dynamic player and is willing to give everything for the team.
“She has gone above and beyond in the offseason to work on her offensive game and I am excited to see her produce.
“Korbyn Draper brings fire to the game, and she is ready to light our torch.
“Draper had some power stats last year,” Watson added. “We hope for her to continue that trend for us this year.”
The Dust Devils are not satisfied.
“Our team has never felt so determined,” Draper said. “We’ve put in hours among hours of work, and we’re pushing to get over that hump in the semifinals this year and finally going to get that ring we all knowingly deserve.
“Not just for us, but for (volunteer assistant) coach (Mark Ruckle), as well.”
Opening day softball
— 6 p.m.
— River Valley at Mohave