Mike Sparrow was Coach of the Year in the Division IV Southern League softball last year. He has received that award before, he said, but couldn’t remember when.
Led by three-sport league MVP Jamie Hansen, in 2015 the Pahranagat Valley Panthers made school history by becoming the first softball team to win three consecutive Division IV state championships.
And in the process also became one for the very few schools in the state to have won the girls coveted “triple crown,” volleyball, basketball, and softball, two years in a row.
As the softball season gets ready to begin this year, Round Mountain returns to the league. Sparrow said the Knights dropped their program about five years ago during the middle of the season, and by rule, the NIAA required them to play one full season as an independent, which they did in 2015, and are now reinstated in the six-team Southern league.
Last season, the Lady Panthers had three seniors on the team and 12 underclassmen. This year they will have but two seniors, both All League selections last year, in Brook Higbee and Janel Meldrum. The season begins March 11-12 for the girls as they host the Pahranagat Invitational tournament with Beaver Dam, Eureka and the Moapa JV.
In first weekend in April, the softball team will be making the same trip to California with the baseball team. Sparrow has three games scheduled there. “We’ll play a single game April 1 with Carpinteria High in Carpinteria, and a doubleheader on April 2 with Channel Islands High and Foothill Tech in Ventura. The games will be at the Channel Islands campus in Oxnard, just south of Ventura,” he said.
Channel Islands was 8-17 in 2015, and is 1-1 in the 2016 season, having started last weekend. Foothill Tech was 16-9 last year, Carpinteria was 8-17.
Pahranagat Valley has four All League players returning part from the aforementioned two seniors, Ashlyn Wadsworth, Madison Harris, Allyson Egbert and Allyse Frehner.
“We will be replacing those two full-time starters, Hansen and Jamie Jewitt, for last year,” Sparrow said. “Harris is likely to be at third base, Higbee at second, and Madalyn Taylor behind the plate with Wadsworth and Kaitlyn Davis, both sophomores, on the mound.”
Davis may also see time at first base. The second base position is up for grabs at the moment, but a good talent pool to choose from.
“We are a young team,” Sparrow notes, “and hope to continue to progress and want to be playing our best softball at the end of the season.”
The Lady Panthers first home league games are a double header with Sandy Valley April 14.