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Softball season preview: Centennial seeks title ‘without a home’

The Centennial softball team was already preparing to replace a few key graduating members of last year’s Class 5A state runner-up.

But the Bulldogs have another obstacle to face this season: They won’t be able to play on their home field.

Spring sports competition begins Thursday. Many teams will open with tournaments this weekend or regular-season contests next week.

Bulldogs coach Michael Livreri said the school’s baseball and softball fields are being redone and replaced with turf, forcing the team to play at nearby Majestic Park this season. Centennial opens with a tournament in El Paso, Texas, on Thursday.

“We’re finally getting turf, but it won’t be done until September or October,” Livreri said. “We are a team without a home this year. We’re playing at Majestic Park for our home games and practicing there. It’s kind of an experience, I’ll say that.”

Livreri said there was a “gopher epidemic” that hurt the field’s playing conditions. He said there’s a bus that some of his players have to take to get to practice, and his players are “making the most of it.”

“They’ve taken it pretty well. They’ve adjusted pretty well and are resilient so far,” Livreri said. “I feel bad for our seniors that won’t have their traditional senior game on their home field and all of that stuff. But we’ll make the most of it.”

On the field, Centennial will be in a tough 5A Mountain League with Palo Verde, which qualified for state last year, and last season’s league champion, Shadow Ridge. All five teams in the Mountain League made the playoffs last year.

“We love that. We don’t shy away from that or any team,” Livreri said. “We look forward to it. It’s going to be a strong division for sure.”

Middle infielder Juliana Bosco leads three returning seniors for the Bulldogs. Livreri said there has been good senior leadership that has carried over from last year’s team that will help with multiple freshmen contributing.

“We’re looking forward to the season,” Livreri said. “We want to build off what we were able to do last year by getting to the state championship game. We’d love to build upon that.”

Palo Verde had a young team with several freshmen and sophomores who made the state tournament last season. Panthers coach Kelly Glass said that playoff experience will benefit her team in the long run in a competitive league.

“Last year was an amazing experience,” Glass said. “Making it to state and taking that trip gave them the opportunity to see what they actually are working for each season. We had a young team, and still do, so I believe they will take last year and work even harder to make another run.”

In the Desert League, Bishop Gorman moves up to 5A after winning the past two 4A state titles. Livreri said Arbor View and Green Valley could be contenders in the Desert League, and up north, reigning state champion Douglas will be one of the favorites for the title.

Contact Alex Wright at awright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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