Andy Morales with Addison Scott.
In some circles, “Las Viejas” might be seen as a bunch of old ladies playing softball on Tuesday nights at the new Lincoln Park Fields, but to some of us who grew up coaching them, watching them and cheering for them, they are still a group of niñas playing the game they love.
The “Pink Ladies,” the “Leftovers,” the “Glove Handles,” the “‘Rebels,” “Team Diablos,” the “Ex Prospects,” “AZ Elite” and Las Viejas are the eight teams formed under the guidance of former University of Arizona player and coach Stacy Iveson with hopes of the league growing back to the days of old where women’s fastpitch dominated the social and athletic scene in the Old Pueblo.
The roster of Las Viejas is indicative of some of the highest level of player to find their way back to the diamond.
— Andy Morales (@AndyMorales8) June 7, 2023
Estela Piñon Giles, Mari Contreras, Illiana Teran, Charissa Ballesteros, Chelsea Slama, Jessica Schneider, Lizette Silva, Christine Fernandez, Nicole Marquez, Claudia Nuñez, Dani Anaya and Paola Zamacona with more stated to join. Giles, Contreras and Teran shared time in the circle for the legendary Sunnyside team that went on to win the 2007 state championship and then play for another in 2010. That 2007 team finished ranked No. 8 in the country and the fourth pitcher from that squad, Ivy Campas, is said to join Las Viejas next week.
Each of the eight teams have unique stories of their own and those stories will unfold every Tuesday night until the end of July.
Las Viejas beat Team Diablos Tuesday night and Giles went 3 for 4 with two home runs and a double with six RBI. Those were the first home runs of the league this summer according to Iveson. Ballesteros also went 3-4 with two doubles and two RBI. Contreras, Teran and Giles limited the Diablos to two runs and they combined for six strikeouts. Ayleen Lira went 2-3 for Team Diablos and Yesenia Ahumada went 2-2.
Q & A WITH ESTELA PINON GILES
Q: You’ve been out of softball for a few years. What have you been doing in the meantime?
A: I stopped playing in 2016 and when I got done that summer I played with Mexico and now I have three children, Brody, Brayden and Jasmine.
Q: Let’s go back and tell me about playing softball as a youth and the Sunnyside high school experience?
A: I played with Sunnyside Little League when I was almost 10 and then we won a state championship at Sunnyside my freshman year and that was big. I mean, there were only like two freshmen that year. For me at that time was like the biggest thing ever, of course, that led to another championship game and that led to college with Stacy (Iveson).
Q: You played for Stacy at Yavapai and then the University of Arizona. What was that like for a local player?
A: For one, I never thought I’d be getting an opportunity to get out of Tucson to begin with and then to come back. I always grew up watching the U of A and just being able to represent Tucson and being able to be coached by one of the amazing coaches and legends in Mike (Candrea) plus Stacy was there. I loved her.
It felt comfortable for me. I knew her so that transition going into a big school, play in a big stadium in a big school compared to 30 people to junior college. You’re now on a great team and she helped me transition into that world.
Q: You’re one of the highest drafted players ever out of Tucson. What was that like?
A: It was fun. Playing professional is a whole different level. You are playing with Olympians. I got to play against Caitlin Lowe. At that time, my senior year, she was coaching the outfield at Arizona. So even just to be in the same field with Caitlin and Cat Osterman, along with Monica Abbott, who was my mentor with the Chicago Bandits. Just being around past Olympian players was such an honor.
SOUTHERN ARIZONA PRO SOFTBALL DRAFTEES
No. 2 – 2010: UTIL Molly Johnson, Sabino (Tennessee Diamonds)
No. 4 – 2014: RHP Estela Piñon, Sunnyside (Chicago Bandits)
No. 10 – 2023: OF Yannira Acuña, Salpointe (Athletes Unlimited)
Q: How is it to be part of that Wildcat legacy?
A: I still wear that across my chest. Very honored and proud. My kids, they love the U of A, they always ask if I’m going to go and play again. I’m like, “Oh, I’m sorry, buddy. I’m too old now!”
Q: You’re playing in this woman’s fastpitch league. Stacy brought it back. So tell me about your first time out here. Tell me what you’re hoping for tonight?
A: Obviously, have fun. I know there’s a lot of players out here that haven’t played for a while and I think at this time in our life I’m sure we are here to have fun. It’s not so much pressure of you need to perform well and hey, we go out there and perform well and we take some from the younger kids, awesome. Not expecting too much out of anybody. Just have fun and show my kids that hey, Mama still has it.
Q: How is it having your husband Ken here to support you?
A: I know he’s excited because we always play catch overhand not underhand, but he does play catch me once in a blue moon. So I trust him so it’s nice. Anytime he needs a throwing partner. I’m always there for him.
Los Angeles Dodgers signed free agent RHP Ken Giles to a minor league contract. pic.twitter.com/ydcMjh0pMp
— Complete MLB (@CompleteMLB) June 5, 2023
Named one of “Arizona’s Heart & Sol” by KOLD and Casino del Sol, Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and a 2019 AZ Education News recognition. He was 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 and his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is a 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, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. He earned a Distinguished Service Award from Amphitheater and he was recognized by City Councilman Richard Fimbres. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org