At the start of the softball season Durango’s Samantha Juarez probably wouldn’t have been the choice to lead her own team in home runs, let alone all of Southern Nevada’s Class 4A.
Juarez, who had four home runs in 2009, was known more for consistency than power at the plate.
But now line drives aren’t just leaving her bat. They’re leaving the field, too.
The junior third baseman belted 13 homers and finished with a .485 average and 42 RBIs en route to earning Southwest League Player of the Year honors. Juarez helped the Trailblazers finish 23-9, including a 16-0 mark in the Southwest.
“I really didn’t expect her to have so much power,” Durango coach Toni Del Toro said. “Even last year, she was a solid contact hitter, but she has a new approach at the plate now. She’s not a big girl, but her bat speed is very good.”
Juarez fit nicely into the middle of the Trailblazers’ lineup, which also featured sluggers Jaexie Balilea and Katie Moore, who combined for 17 homers and 76 RBIs.
“Our three-, four- and five-hole hitters were really tough to pitch against,” Del Toro said. “It’s three threats together, and you can’t really pitch around anybody. Adding another bat of that caliber really helped.”
Durango’s Taylor Short was named the league’s Pitcher of the Year.
In the Northwest League, Legacy’s Darcey Cochran took Player of the Year honors, and Palo Verde’s Melissa McCormick is the Pitcher of the Year.
Foothill’s Kylie Ishikawa is the Player of the Year and Basic’s Lacey Romo the Pitcher of the Year in the Southeast League.
In the Northeast League, Las Vegas’ Monique Hernandez earned Player of the Year accolades, and Valley’s Mickayla Romero is the Pitcher of the Year.
Del Toro, Legacy’s Dan Casel, Basic’s Bart Black and Canyon Springs’ Nicole Branham were named their respective league’s Coach of the Year.
JeNiece Morgan, Chaparral; Jasmine Villamar, Valley; Mickayla Romero, Valley; Zoe Galindo, Valley; Jenice Gutierrez, Las Vegas; Monique Hernandez, Las Vegas; Ashly Westgarth, Las Vegas; Megan Robbins, Desert Pines; Gabby Trillo, Eldorado; Amber Marlett, Rancho
Daisy Valenzuela, Rancho; Aly Lamboo, Rancho; Lucelly Arias, Valley; Chelsea Lewis, Las Vegas; Krizzel Galvez, Las Vegas; Kendy Reynoso, Chaparral; Cheyenne Schindler, Eldorado; Victoria Rivera, Canyon Springs; Jalissa Choyce, Sunrise Mountain
Player of the Year: Monique Hernandez, Las Vegas
Pitcher of the Year: Mickayla Romero, Valley
Coach of the Year: Nicole Branham, Canyon Springs
Ali Bodnar, Green Valley; Alicia Firelein, Green Valley; Breanna English, Liberty; Francesca Foti, Liberty; Lacey Romo, Basic; Kylie Ishikawa, Foothill; Amanda Roark, Tech; Devyn Choltko, Coronado; Morgan Yuhas, Coronado
Kayla Anderson, Green Valley; Shelby Vickers, Green Valley; Desiree Laswell, Green Valley; Rhiannon Beck, Liberty; Megan Patras, Liberty; Marissa Ross, Basic; Adrian Brown, Basic; Lauren Penksa, Foothill; Riana Splinter, Silverado
Player of the Year: Kylie Ishikawa, Foothill
Pitcher of the Year: Lacey Romo, Basic
Coach of the Year: Bart Black, Basic
Darcey Cochran, Legacy; Sierra Pico, Legacy; Erika Stratton, Palo Verde; Lauryn Stover, Palo Verde; Melissa McCormick, Palo Verde; Savanah Webster, Arbor View; Amanda Jones, Arbor View; Carrie Sheehan, Cimarron-Memorial; Mary Jordan, Shadow Ridge; Krislyn Campos, Shadow Ridge; Rachel Holly, Cheyenne; Mikayla Djordjevic, Centennial
Jessie Wilhelm, Legacy; Katrina Rand, Legacy; Kayla Murray, Legacy; Danielle Pick, Legacy; Danielle Hearn, Palo Verde; Angel Council, Palo Verde; Nichole Diaz, Arbor View; Karli Lehr, Arbor View; Mia Acuna, Centennial; Taylor Huntly, Centennial; Hannah Williams, Cimarron-Memorial; Melanie Manley, Cheyenne; Maya Barnes, Faith Lutheran
Player of the Year: Darcey Cochran, Legacy
Pitcher of the Year: Melissa McCormick, Palo Verde
Coach of the Year: Dan Casel, Legacy
Katie Moore, Durango; O’Sheyon Rollins, Bishop Gorman; Emily Osborn, Bonanza; Emily Heinz, Desert Oasis; Jasmine Fukuda, Clark; Samantha Juarez, Durango; Taylor Short, Durango; Jaexie Balilea, Durango; Rebecca Gamble, Pahrump Valley; Georgi Delio, Spring Valley
Andrea McIntosh, Desert Oasis; Cheyenne Wells, Bonanza; Shannon Chapman, Clark; Katie Campo, Spring Valley; Courtney Spencer, Bonanza; Lenzi Cram, Desert Oasis; Anna Jaehn, Clark; Jessica Martinez, Spring Valley; Nicolette Lind, Bonanza; Julia Hagen, Clark
Player of the Year: Samantha Juarez, Durango
Pitcher of the Year: Taylor Short, Durango
Coach of the Year: Toni Del Toro, Durango