Pima Community College sports

Pima extends winning streak to 20 games with doubleheader sweep of Arizona Western

Pima’s 20-game winning streak is the program’s longest in 20 years (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Pima coach Rebekah Quiroz shook her head and smiled in disbelief while looking over at her team celebrating: “Listen to them about Texas Roadhouse …”

This was just about a minute after Tucson High grad Camila Zepeda touched them all after her walk-off three-run home run that capped Pima’s sweep Saturday of Arizona Western in a doubleheader in front of an overflow crowd at the Aztec West Campus Field.

Pima won the first game 8-7 after rallying from a 7-0 deficit, and the Aztecs beat the Matadors 12-2 in a run-rule outcome in the second game.

“Texas Roadhouse! Texas Roadhouse!” the Aztecs chanted in a group, jumping up and down, acknowledging they were successful regarding Quiroz’s challenge before the two games:

Sweep the doubleheader and they earn a steak dinner at Texas Roadhouse.

With her team now at 20 straight wins — the longest streak for Pima since the 2004 national championship team won 35 consecutive games en route to a 71-9 season — Quiroz will have more dinners to pay if she continues these kind of challenges.

“Coach said no weights on Monday and Texas Roadhouse if we sweep; we wanted to break … we wanted to break something,” Pima catcher Mallory Zylinski-Wrobel, a Sahuarita grad, said about potentially breaking the school record for a winning streak with the sweep Saturday.

Before the games against Arizona Western, it was noted by Pima that the Aztecs were a win shy of topping the 18-game winning streak held by the 2018 men’s soccer national championship team as the longest in school history.

Pima pitching coach Nicki Johnson questioned that because she was part of the 2004 title team.

“We finished 71-9 so I know there were some long winning streaks in there,” said Johnson, who was the ace of that team coached by legendary Stacy Iveson.

Shortly after the completion of the games Saturday, it was determined the 35-game winning streak 20 years ago is the standard.

What’s another 15 straight wins to reach that record?

This team is not consumed by the winning streak, according to Quiroz, whose father Armando, a longtime successful coach locally, including at Pima, is serving as a consultant for her and her staff.

“We kind of don’t talk about the streak as opposed to our goals because they know in a second I would trade in the streak for a championship,” she said. “We don’t talk about it. We just come out here and get the job done.”

Her role in the midst of the players doing their jobs is to stay out of their way was much as possible, keeping her team as loose as possible. She has faith in her players to lead each other. The approach has worked with Pima now 29-8 overall and 16-2 in the ACCAC.

“I’ll be honest with you — I’m not really coaching the girls at this point,” she said. “They’re just kind of playing. Every now and then, I’ll give a bunt sign or a hit-and-run or a squeeze, but for the most part, they’re running on fumes and doing their jobs. I’m proud of them.”

Having fun in the dugout singing and dancing in unison plays a significant part to the prolonged winning streak.

“They’re very wild and I love their energy,” said Quiroz, who has the background of playing for her dad at Flowing Wells before competing at Pima and Arizona.

“I think that’s a big part, too … keeping the energy during the postseason is so important because we need something to run with.”

Zylinski-Wrobel wore a crown, pink lay around her neck and pink star-shaped glasses signifying a celebration of her birthday after the sweep.

She was very giving on her birthday.

In the first game, Pima’s winning streak was in jeopardy after the Aztecs fell behind 7-0 after the top half of the fourth inning.

Pueblo graduate Alyssa Noriega had an RBI single to cut the lead to 7-1 in the bottom of the fourth.

Zylinski-Wrobel had the big blow of the bases-clearing double with two outs in a six-run fifth inning that tied the game at 7.

Sunnyside graduate Natalya Rivera and Mountain View alum Talia Martin led off the inning with singles. Aubrey Marx of Cienega and Zepeda followed with two more singles that drove in two runs.

After a walk to Flowing Wells alum Jasmine Majonica that loaded the bases, Mina Chacon of Tucson High followed with a sacrifice fly that cut the lead to 7-4.

Nevaeh Bracamonte, whose presence in the circle the last 3 1/3 innings was valuable for Pima, walked to load the bases.

With two outs, Zylinksi-Wrobel connected on a 3-1 pitch to the left field fence, clearing the bases.

“My head was, ‘Go, go, go,'” said Zylinski-Wrobel, one of the sophomore captains. “I need to do what I need to do for my team. I didn’t care if it was a home run or a single, I need to get that ball down and I needed to bring in the runs.”

In the bottom of the sixth, again with two outs, Pima took the 8-7 lead when freshman Jazmyne Waddell of San Manuel cleared the center field fence with a bomb on a 1-0 pitch.

“That ball was fat from the hand,” Waddell said of the home run pitch. “I was feeling good on deck, too. I was seeing the ball well all game. I knew I was going to get a good pitch coming in for that at-bat.”

With one out in the top of the seventh, Arizona Western had a player reach base on an error.

Bracamonte then induced the last batter to ground into a double play to end the game.

Waddell pitched the entire five innings of the run-rule victory in the second game.

She allowed only three hits and an earned run while walking five and striking out two. Her defense behind her was remarkable, exemplified by Majonica’s full-extension leabing snag of a shallow fly ball to center field.

“There’s no better feeling — being a part of this team is awesome,” Waddell said. “There’s no stopping us. There’s no holding back.”

Arizona Western held a 2-1 lead going into the third inning.

That’s when Pima rallied for four runs, including a three-run home run by Zylinski-Wrobel on a first-pitch delivery.

“I was just so blessed to be able to perform, to be able to compete,” Zylinski-Wrobel said of her six-RBI day with a double and home run in each game.

Chacon’s RBI single was part of a two-run rally in the fourth inning that increased the lead to 7-2.

Pima’s five-run outburst in the fifth inning that ended the game early started with singles by Zylinski-Wrobel and Rivera to lead off the inning.

An infield single by Alyssa Lopez of Sunnyside loaded the bases.

Martin followed with a sacrifice fly to center field and Marx then delivered an RBI single to put Pima ahead 9-2.

Lopez and Marx came home on Zepeda’s walk-off home run, her 14th of the season.

Zepeda has 42 RBIs. The next player, Chacon, her former teammate at Tucson, has 28.

“We always had hope,” Zepeda, a sophomore, said of the rally from seven runs down in the first game. “We said, ‘Little by little we can get the runs back.’ The hits came along, everything.

“This team is special. I’m going to miss this team, for sure. The energy … even when we’re down, the energy picks us up.”

Rebekah Quiroz sees herself in a majority of her players — Southern Arizona born and raised, representing her city’s community college as part of the softball team.

That’s what she lived after graduating from Flowing Wells.

A total of 23 players from Southern Arizona on Pima’s roster are doing the same thing.

The Aztecs’ 20-game winning streak demonstrates the value of the overall talent level in Southern Arizona.

“You’ll notice my lineup is never the same,” Quiroz said. “That just shows the depth of this program. We have so many freshmen and they’re working on all cylinders right now. I’m very proud of them.

“It’s huge. And this is with local kids. They’re all local. We’re keeping our good kids home and that goes to tell where our program is headed and what our goals are going forward.”

The Arizona Western-Pima doubleheader featured rosters with 33 players from Southern Arizona.

Alyssa Lopez, OF, Sunnyside
Natalya Rivera, INF/UT, Sunnyside
Jasmine Majonica, OF, Flowing Wells
Camila Zepeda, INF, Tucson Magnet
Jazmyne Waddell, P, San Manuel
Gabriella Salazar, OF, Marana
Mina Chacon, INF, Tucson
Talia Martin, C/OF, Mountain View
Grace Parke, C, Benson
Aubrey Marx, OF, Cienega
Mari Asher, OF/P/UT, Canyon del Oro
Cheyanne Ortiz, INF, Tucson
Marina Price, INF/UT, Rincon/University
Ailani Rodriguez, P, Rio Rico
Jesse Gonzalez, P, Willcox
Yanelyssia Chavez, P, Salpointe Catholic
Bella Medina, C/OF, Canyon del Oro
Mallory Zylinski-Wrobel, C, Sahuarita
Jessica Thompson, P, Tanque Verde
Alyssa Noriega, INF, Pueblo
Kayla Miranda, INF, Tucson
Monique Bustamante, INF, Salpointe Catholic
Trinity Bullock, P, Benson

Ashley Higdon, C/INF, Cienega
Mackenzie Barney, INF, Mountain View
Mollie Forbes, RHP/OF, Mountain View
Alizandra Bernal, P, Cienga
Ariana Montiel, UT, Cholla
Summer Simpson, RHP/INF, Cholla
Kaity McLaughlin, OF, Tanque Verde
Gianna Medrando, INF, Ironwood Ridge
GiGi Garcia, INF, Marana
Liliana Vigil German, P, Ironwood Ridge


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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