Puma spring sports preview

Paradise Valley Community College overview of 2016 sports events

Charles Landis, Sports Editor

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Paradise Valley Community College takes a lot of pride in their athletic teams, with some of the top community college athletic programs in the state. Each team is excited to start the season and work towards the ultimate goal, making the playoffs and hopefully contending for a championship in their respective sport.

Baseball

Puma baseball enjoyed a very successful 38-15 season in 2015. While that standard may be a high one to hold, the team is hopeful for yet another productive year.

Head coach Victor Solis, who helped start the baseball program at PVCC says about the 2016 Puma baseball team, “This is a whole new team this year and a different year. We need to be able to control the things that we can control and become the best team that we can be. This would be a successful season.”

He also says that while they could improve in all areas of the game, where he wants his team to improve the most is in their toughness level in certain situations.

“We need to improve in our “compete level.” It is my responsibility to teach the guys what I mean by this. The good news is that each one of us does control these things.”

Coach Solis encourages everyone to come out and watch the team play this season.

 

Softball

The Puma women’s softball team, led by head coach Nick Candrea, is a team made up of young talent hoping to improve in every aspect of their game to make themselves better for this year and beyond. There are five sophomores and 15 freshmen on the team.

Of what would make this season successful for his team, Coach Candrea says, “They will have to be very patient and not get upset and give up because of getting beat.”

He also notes that most of the ladies on the team have never experienced this high a level of competition and overall talent before.

“Our pitching and hitting are major areas of concern, but with time we will get better and more consistent game by game,” Candrea says.

With eight current ladies signed on to play in the 2017 season as freshman, the team has current depth from the 2016 freshman class and will look to build along with the new signing class coming in for the next year.

“We have a great group of young ladies with good team chemistry and the team will continue to work hard in order to get better, which they will,” Candrea says.

 

Track and Field

The Puma track and field team currently has 35 athletes and since its inception in 1999, the program has been in the top 10 at the National Junior College Athletics Association’s championship meets eight times. The athletes have also done well individually, capturing 15 Individual National Championships and 75 All-American awards. In the last two track meets, the PVCC Indoor Open and the Aztec Invitational in Tucson, eight Pumas have punched a ticket to the NJCAA National Championships. The distance runners will travel to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the Tyson Invitational. The sprinters, jumpers and throwers will travel to Flagstaff for the NAU Invitational. The teams next meet is the CAC Last Chance Indoor at Central Arizona College on Saturday, Feb. 27. The week after that are the NJCAA Indoor Championships in Winston-Salem North Carolina.

Men’s Tennis

The Puma men’s tennis team which has six current players, is hoping to be in contention to qualify for the national tournament this year held in Plano, Texas in May. Head coach Jim Paajanen would like to see his team improve at the very beginning of each match.

“The first four shots of any point are critical, and we must get a lot better in this area,” says Coach Paajanen.

Sophomores Talon Walz and Cody Kacerek are the leaders of this Puma tennis team.

“They are both good tennis players and great teammates for the freshmen to follow,” says Paajanen.

This team is excelling not only on the tennis court, but in the classroom and community as well. During the fall semester, the men’s tennis team posted a combined 3.63 grade point average.

On Saturday, Jan. 23, the team spent their morning at Troon Country Club and shared their tennis talent at a Special Olympics Fun Day with an anticipated 200 athletes playing, practicing, and hit tennis balls along with other teaching professionals and volunteers from the area.

“The interaction and enthusiasm shared by the Puma players put smiles on the faces of those participating and was a very rewarding experience for the players too,” says Coach Paajanen.

Women’s Tennis

The women’s tennis team also hopes to be in contention this season for its national tournament held in Tyler, Texas. Of what is his favorite thing about the team he has this year, head Coach Feroz Rast says, “Our team this year is made of seven amazing young ladies, who are hard working and very coachable. My favorite part is how well they get along with each other and how positive they are.”

The Puma women’s tennis team is led by team captain and sophomore Gabriela Wallen.

“She has been a great leader and leads by example, both in the classroom and on the court. She is very positive with her teammates in practice and holds herself and her teammates accountable,” Rast says.

Sophomore Madison Zeller, who is a two-sport athlete at PVCC, is the only returning player from last season. She recently signed a commitment to play soccer at Roger State University in Oklahoma.

“Her tennis game has grown so much and she is one of the hardest working athletes I know,” Rast says.

He adds he would like to see the most improvement in the doubles matches the team plays.

“Doubles is so much faster paced than singles and the matches require both players to be on the same page and collaborating. If we can win our doubles matches, then the singles matches will come too.”

Coach Rast would like to extend a thank you to former PVCC Athletic Director Greg Silcox and PVCC’s current athletic director Christina Hundley for being the teams’ biggest supporters.

“We are so lucky to have their great leadership,” he says.

The team’s next match is at home on Thursday, Feb. 25 against Mesa Community College at 1:30 pm

Men’s Golf

The men’s golf team placed 7th in their first golf match of the season and the men are excited to kick off their season on a strong note. The team has eight golfers for the 2016 season, five sophomores and three freshmen. Head coach Randy Wittig was not available for comment on the season, but PVCC Athletic Director Christina Hundley says about the 2016 season for the team,

“Our men’s team is led by five returners and we hope to build on the work we put in during the 2015 season.”

The team has its next match Sunday, February 28th against Pima Community College at Silverbell golf course in Tucson, at 10:30 am.

Women’s Golf

The PVCC Women’s Golf Team placed 5th in its first match of the season. It is a team of all freshmen.

Hundley says of the team, “Our women’s team are all in their first year of intercollegiate competition. We are looking to improve tournament to tournament.”

This team is young and is looking for experience to better themselves for this season and beyond.

“A successful season takes place on the course and in the classroom,” Hundlesy says. “Having all of these students compete at a high level in both areas is our goal.”

The ladies have their next match on Monday, March 7th against Scottsdale Community College at Hillcrest golf course at 11 a.m.

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