Paige Adair set to play softball for Pima CC

Karl Schneider

AZTEC — Paige Adair can check one more goal off her list after the star pitcher signed a letter of intent to play softball for Pima Community College today at Lillywhite Gym.

Paige Adair, center, signs a letter of intent to play softball for Pima Community College on Tuesday at Lillywhite Gym in Aztec.

Adair has been Aztec’s ace in the circle the past two years, helping the Lady Tigers to back-to-back district championships and a state title appearance last season. She said the decision to sign with Pima was an easy one after spending a little time with the program’s coaching staff.

“Right when I met coach (Armando Quiroz) and his daughter (assistant coach Rebekah Quiroz), we connected. They took me in right away and made me feel like family — that was a huge thing,” Adair said. “And they’re a championship program. It just felt like home to me.”

Aztec's Paige Adair delivers a pitch against Centennial during the 5A championship game on May 14 in Albuquerque.

Pima CC is located in Tucson, Ariz., and competes in the National Junior College Athletic Association. Last season the Lady Aztec’s finished 47-19-1.

Adair’s stellar career at Aztec includes a first team All-State selection last spring after posting a 0.66 earned run average with 224 strikeouts, and a second team All-State selection at pitcher in 2015.

“What’s really exciting is (Quiroz) knows she’s going to be his No. 1 pitcher,” Aztec coach Roy Johnson said. “She went down there about two weeks ago and was just spinning the ball, and everyone there told her they don’t have anyone like her.”

Johnson, who has more than four decades’ worth of coaching experience, added that Adair is as good a pitcher, or all-around player, as he’s ever coached.

Adair will bring more than a dominant arm to Pima’s rotation. She has the ability to play in the field, spending the time she’s not pitching playing shortstop for Aztec. And as a sophomore in 2014 she was a second team All-State selection at second base, while boasting a .434 career batting average.

“That’s the best thing about her. She can pitch or play a position (in the field), and she’s our No. 3 hitter. That shows how versatile she is,” Johnson said. “If she gets to college and pitching doesn’t work out, she could still play. She’s good enough to play at that level all the way up to (Division I).”

Paige Adair (17) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a home run against Farmington on March 19 at the Ricketts Park softball fields in Farmington.

After completing the signing, one major goal is left for Adair as a Lady Aztec to check off her list: a state title.

The Lady Tigers have been close, losing 1-0 to Centennial last season and falling to rival Piedra Vista during Adair’s freshman season in 2014.

Adair believes getting her signing done early will take some pressure off of her when the softball season begins in the spring, giving her and the four other members of Aztec’s Fab Five — the program’s five senior softball players — a better chance to capture the elusive state title.

“It would mean everything to me,” Adair said of winning a state title. “Especially with these girls and for Roy (Johnson) and for (coach) Gary (Graham) and for my dad. My dad has been our coach since we were little. He started us out and got us into this program. It would be the cherry on top.”

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.