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Piedra Vista pitcher Krissy Fortner delivers a pitch in a game against Roswell during the 2012 season.
For the better part of a decade, 4A softball has known only one champion.
Piedra Vista opens the season looking for an eighth straight state title with a solid core of experienced players returning from last year's squad.
With such an experienced roster, PV will again be the favorites to bring home the blue trophy.
“We have a good nucleus coming back,” said PV head coach Kevin Werth. “They’ve worked hard in the offseason and are ready to get on the field.”
Senior co-captain Alexandria Moreno returns behind the plate for PV, while Krissy Fortner is the ace for the pitching staff.
“I think that we have more depth with pitching, so that helps us,” Werth said. “Offensively, we’ll be good. We just have to avoid slumps. You go on streaks, and the season just isn’t long enough to go cold for too long.”
New Mexico State commit Susie Chandler will captain the infield at shortshop. In the outfield, juniors Makayla Duncan, Danielle Ortiz and Tabor Woosley all return.
The Lady Panthers know winning another title will be difficult with last season’s runner-up Aztec returning most of its players, but they are ready for the challenge.
“They understand the territory and know everyone wants to knock them out, but they get after it and want that trophy,” Werth said. “We just try and keep them humble, but they know what it takes to win.

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If we can stay healthy and get a little lucky, then I think we can be right there again.”
PV opens its season today at the Linda Crabtree softball challenge.
The Lady Panthers will open with Los Alamos and Grants in pool play.

Aztec
Head Coach: Jose Santistevan
Last Year: 4A state runner-up
Key returners: Anglea Minjarez, Hailey Morris, Taylor Santistevan, Dakota Kaufman and Maria Minjarez
Season outlook: “I believe we’re right back where we were at the end of last year. (Piedra Vista) is the best team in the state. There’s no question. We just have to have confidence. I think this year the girls have better a feeling after getting to the state title game. I don’t want to say this is an all or nothing year, because we have some good players coming up, but we got six seniors on this team. For them, it’s an all or nothing. Angela’s pitching is going to be our key. She’s our horse and is going to win a lot of games for us.” – Aztec head coach Jose Santistevan.

Farmington
Head Coach: John Curry, 1st year
Last year: First round of 4A state playoffs
Key returners: Cheyenne Cochran 
New additions: Jordan Curry
Season outlook: “We have high expectations with all of the tradition at Farmington High. There are always expectations to perform. We’re really young at the varsity level. Cheyenne Cochran will be a leader for us behind the plate and Jordan Curry has some varsity experience in the circle. We’re pleased with the outfield. Katelynn Flack has a lot of speed in center and will be our leadoff hitter. In District 1-4A, we have the state champs and the state runner-up, but any year on any day, it’s anybody’s game in this district. It’s like that in all sports. It’s just a district to watch in this state, regardless of the sport.” – FHS head coach John Curry.

Kirtland Central
Head Coach: Roddy Yellowman, 1st year
Last year: First round of 4A state playoffs
Kirtland Central head coach Roddy Yellowman was unavailable for comment by press time Thursday.

Bloomfield

Head Coach: Andi Clark, 2nd year
Last year: 5th place District 1-4A
Key returners: Rebecca Sappington, Haili Bekes, Morgan Clark, Sophia Cumpton Yessenia Ibarra and Rachel Candelaria
New additions: Thalia O'Neill and Jasmine Sappington
Season outlook: "I believe we will be competitive back in 3A. We are thinking big picture every day and going 100 percent. All we are focusing on is getting back to the state tournament and doing well again in 3A. With seven seniors and this much experience, it is my goal to go there and be competitive. I am building the girls up with a bunch of tough tournaments so they can play stronger teams and see competition. Come April when we get into districts, we hope to do well and get into state. Rebecca Sappington will replace Ashlee Archbeque as my starter. She had a lot of time last year, but I also have three other pitchers." — BHS head coach Andi Clark.

Shiprock

Head coach: Levi Toledo, 3rd year
Last year: Second round of 3A state playoffs.
Shiprock head coach Levi Toledo was unavailable for comment by press time Thursday.

Navajo Prep
Head Coach: Darin Wright, 1st year
Last Year: Second round of the 2A state playoffs
Key Returners: Lynshellrae Begay, Sydni Anyri, Jazz Kinsel
New Additions: Brooke Becenti, Shantel King.
Season Outlook: “I am hoping for a district championship, and we can make a good showing at the state tournament. We have a good core returning and some good young players, but I haven’t seen everybody yet because basketball is still going on. Our biggest strength is that we’ve got kids that are hungry to learn the game. They are very coachable. We also have Nicole Nakai and Robin Randall back as assistant coaches. They both played at the college level and are great assets.” – Navajo Prep head coach Darin Wright.