Salpointe wins 4A Championship; Sabino Softball Game Notes

Alyssa Aguilar is greeted by former Arizona catcher and current Salpointe head coach Amy Rocha after Aguilar hit what proved to be the winning home run. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

Some call softball a perfect game but perfection is ultimately defined by the person holding the scorebook. The person with that pencil can ruin a good game with a peculiar interpretation of an error over a hit but wins and losses are the constants and ending a season undefeated is universal perfection. Prior to Monday afternoon, only six known high school softball teams in the state of Arizona have ever held up a trophy at the end of a season without knowing the sting of defeat or a tie and Salpointe made that seven after the Lancers held on to defeat Vista Grande 5-4 Monday afternoon at Hillenbrand Stadium on the University of Arizona campus.

The victory gave the Lancers their fifth state championship and the program finished 24-0 and the Spartans ended the year with an 18-2 record. Head coach Amy Rocha guided the program to three straight championships with a 2020 out of the equation due to COVID restrictions.

With three championships from Southern Arizona, the former University of Arizona catcher joins the likes of Southern Arizona legends Kelly Fowler at Canyon del Oro, Armando Quiroz at Flowing Wells, Chris Fanning of Sahuarita and Amy Swiderski at Canyon del Oro. Legendary Sahuaro coach Billy Lopez finished his career with six championships, San Manuel’s Sheila Baize had five and current Cienega coach Eric Tatham has four. Of all these coaches, only two ended the year undefeated….



Salpointe dedicated the victory to the memory of the late Brother Thomas Conlon (Brother Herman) who passed away at the age of 93 on September 14, 2020. And the team also dedicated their run to Father Tom who is unable to watch games. The two were fixtures at practice and at games. From the Carmelite order, the team also had “Little Flowers” to represent the life of Saint Therese of Lisieux in honor of Brother Thomas.

Yannixa Acuña is the younger sister of ASU standout Yannira Acuña.



First-year Sabino head coach Kyle Howell is also the school’s athletic director. Howell played baseball at Wagner and Southwest Baptist and he was the minor league strength and conditioning coach for the Washington Nationals before making baseball coaching stops in El Paso, College of the Ozarks. He led Hesston College from 2014 to 2018 where he was named 2016 NJCAA DII Region VI Coach of the Year. He was a n scout for the Red Sox organization before moving to Tucson to take on AD duties at St. Augustine. He is currently a scout with the Detroit Tigers.

Connie Weaver with her Sabino girls. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

Longtime Sabino athletic trainer Connie Weaver retired after being with the Sabercats for 25 year. She says she will miss her interactions with the students the most.

“It has been a pure joy to work with high school kids,” Weaver said. “We have had a lot of success at Sabino and I still keep in touch with a lot of the former athletes.”

Weaver started out at Pueblo in 1987 during her collegiate studies and from there she had stops at Montana Tech, Idaho and Oregon State before returning to Tucson in 1996.

2A Runner up Benson (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

The Benson softball team came to offer support for Payson after Payson cheered for the Bobcats in the 2A final on Saturday


Canyon del Oro (9)
1991: 5A (Kathy McQuown)
2001: 5A (Dee Dinota)
2005: 5A (Kelly Fowler)
2007: 4A-I (Amy Swiderski)
2008: 4A-I (Amy Swiderski)
2009: 4A-I (Amy Swiderski)
2011: 4A-I (Kelly Fowler)
2012: D-II (Stephanie Nicholson)
2017: 4A (Kelly Fowler)

San Manuel (9)
1977: 4A (Sheila Baize)
1979: 4A (Sheila Baize)
1980: 4A (Sheila Baize)
1981: 3A (Sheila Baize)
1982: 3A (Sheila Baize)
1990: 3A (Jeff Rupright)
1994: 3A (Jeff Rupright)
2013: D4 (Deanne Brewer)
2014: D4 (Deanne Brewer)

Sahuaro (8)
1984: 5A (Jim Higgins)
1985: 5A (Jim Higgins)
1988: 5A (Billy Lopez)
1989: 4A/5A (Billy Lopez)
1991: 5A (Billy Lopez)
1992: 4A (Billy Lopez)
1993: 4A (Billy Lopez)
2001: 4A (Billy Lopez)

Benson (5)
2006: 2A (Shad Housley)
2008: 2A (Shad Housley)
2011: 2A (Manny Ellsworth)
2017: 2A (Yogi Wilson)
2018: 2A (Yogi Wilson)

Salpointe (5)
1993: 5A (Stacy Hill Iveson)
1996: 5A (Phil Gruensfelder)
2018: 4A (Amy Baray Rocha)
2019: 4A (Amy Baray Rocha)
2021: 4A (Amy Baray Rocha)

Santa Cruz (5)
1979: 3A (Rosie Starks)
1980: 3A (Rosie Starks)
2000: 3A (Ernie Montijo)
2006: 3A (Andrea Reyes)
2008: 3A (Andrea Reyes)

Cienega (4)
2010: 4A-I (Eric Tatham)
2015: D-II (Eric Tatham)
2017: 5A (Eric Tatham)
2018: 5A (Eric Tatham)

Flowing Wells (4)
1984: 4A (Debbie Cutrer)
1999: 5A (Armando Quiroz)
2000: 5A (Armando Quiroz)
2002: 5A (Armando Quiroz)

Sabino (4)
1991: 4A (Bill Belt)
2005: 4A (Galen Paton)
2019: 3A (Chris Stainer)
2021: 3A (Kyle Howell)

Ironwood Ridge (3)
2014: D-II (Rich Alday)
2016: D-II (Rich Alday)
2019: 5A (David Martinez)

Sahuarita (3)
1999: 3A (Chris Fanning)
2011: 4A-II (Chris Fanning)
2018: 3A (Chris Fanning)

Desert Christian (2)
1998: 1A (Bill Moten)
1999: 1A (Gerald Dawson)

Palo Verde Christian/Pusch Ridge (2)
1997: 1A (Tom Armour)
2012: D-IV (Bob Vance)

Pueblo (2)
1990: 4A (Lisa Pina)
2016: D-IV (Curtis Ruiz)

Empire (2)
2015: D-III (Shannon Woolridge)
2017: 3A (Shannon Woolridge)

Bowie/San Simon (1)
1990: 1A (Mike Peterson)

Catalina Foothills (1)
2016: D-III (Mark Stevens)

Desert View (1)
2000: 4A (Bert Otero)

Rincon (1)
2002: 4A (Russ Proctor)

Santa Rita (1)
1980: 5A (Jan Dunlap)

Sunnyside (1)
2007: 5A-II (Pete Palomarez)


Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019 and he is a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. Contact Andy Morales at amoralesmytucson@yahoo.com

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