The struggle wasn’t just real; it was hard to watch.
The Westwood softball program was about as bad as any sports team in Arizona.
The Warriors lost 60 times in 62 games, including 49 in a row based on MaxPreps results, over the course of four seasons (2008 to 2011).
The turnaround started in 2014 with a winning season and then peaked last year when Westwood won 22 games and finished second in the East Valley Region.
The Warriors, who have a new coach in Don Baker this year, won more games last season than it did in total from 2008-2012.
It should give hope to any struggling program.
The seven area schools in Mesa have three other programs with losing records over the last decade. This just might be the year that starts a turnaround.
If a team can be resurrected from where Westwood once was then any program can turn it around.
Mountain View is playing from a different perspective as the Toros finished the year at No. 24 in the final power rankings, which should have been good enough to make the play-in portion of the postseason but were bumped by Trevor Browne after it won its region but finished outside of the top 24.
“This has created an urgency and drive within the program to never let that happen again,” Mountain View coach Joe Goodman said.
Here is a look at area teams in 2018:
Coach: Jennifer Broderick, seventh season
Last year’s record: 22-6
Record last 10 years: 174-125 (.582)
Top players: Shaylee Ackerman (P), Holly Monson (Brittany Walkingstick (INF), Lauren Unroe (INF)
Tournament: Lion Country Classic (Feb. 21-24).
Notes: Ackerman, a Texas A&M commit, is the reigning All-Central Region Player of the Year, but hasn’t pitched in the Jaguars first three games according to MaxPreps. … Ackerman hit .500 with 13 home runs, 48 RBIs while going 16-4 on the mound with a 2.25 ERA. … Monson hit .329 with 21 RBIs. … Desert Ridge has posted 20-win seasons in four of the last five campaigns. … The Jaguars opened the year 3-3.
Coach: Jeff Sherrer, sixth season
Last year’s record: 19-13
Record last 10 years: 121-154 (.440)
Top players: McKenna Lohide (C), Suzi Kristic (2B), Macey Meraz (SS), Kaylee Ross (OF)
Tournament: Dobson-Westwood Classic (Feb. 21-24); Gracie Lee Haught Classic (March 15-17).
Notes: Dobson posted its first winning season since 2011 and bring back a strong core of players. Lohide was an All-East Valley pick after hitting .410 with four home runs and 33 RBIs. … Kristic (.336, 21 RBIs), Meraz (.337, 27 RBIs) and Ross (.347, 42 RBIs) were second-team picks. … Mustangs went 3-2-1 to open the year.
Coach: Ritchie Martin, first season
Last year’s record: 4-19
Record last 10 years: 101-179 (.361)
Top players: Adriana Monroy (SS/OF), Seriana Luna (P/3B), Fridda Salas (P/1B)
Tournament: Dobson-Westwood tournament (Feb. 21-24)
Notes: The Jackrabbits lost their first seven games of the season. … Deysia Lawrence is off to a hot start, hitting .438 … The offense has been good to start the season, with a .321 average, but the pitching/defense allowed double digits in five of the first six games including 21 and 18 runs.
Coach: Joe Goodman, seventh season
Last year’s record: 15-16
Record last 10 years: 157-153 (.506)
Top players: Kenzie Fox (SS), Taylor Hilton (1B), Afton Brown (C, 3B)
Tournaments: Dorado Classic (Feb. 21-24); Coyote Classic (March 1-4)
Notes: Fox was a first-team All-East Valley selection after .485 with 14 extra-base hits, 37 runs and 36 RBIs. … Hilton was a second-team pick after hitting .340 with five home runs and 32 RBIs. … The team has three freshmen on the roster. … Junior Lauren Rudolph (2B/SS) is eligible after sitting out last season because of transfer rules. … Sophomore Jaiden Russell slides in the No. 1 pitcher slot. … The Toros lost four of the first five games.
Coach: Richard Hamilton, 12th season
Last year’s record: 20-13
Record last 10 years: 299-71 (.808)
Top players: Makayla Donahoo (P), Matison Onofrei (C), Kayden Bullock (INF), Alayna Hicks (INF), Michelle Anderson (OF)
Tournaments: Lion Country Classic (Feb. 21-24); Desert Mountain Invitational (March 14-17)
Notes: Four all-East Valley first-team picks return to the team. … Donahoo won 13 games and hit .357, while Onofrei hit .479 with 18 doubles, seven home runs, 50 RBI. … Hick hit .435 with 15 extra-base hits and 38 RBI, while Bullock went yard six times while hitting .481 and 27 RBI in 22 games. … Red Mountain has won six state titles with the last one coming in 2014 for five in row and won the EV Region title at 8-2 last year. … After winning at least 30 games for six straight years, Red Mountain has averaged “only” 23 wins per year over the last three. … The Mountain Lions opened the year going 4-2 its own tournament, losing twice to Chaparral.
Coach: Ashley Belmontes, second season
Last year’s record: 8-20
Record last 10 years: 134-165 (.448)
Top players: Margaret Mercer (1B/3B), Lacey Large (P)
Tournament: Lion Country Classic (Feb. 21-24); Coyote Classic (March 1-4)
Notes: Mercer was a second-team All-East Valley pick after hitting .364 with a team-high 13 runs scored. … Despite going 3-10, Large earned honorable mention honors. … The Coyotes have had four winning seasons since 2008 with the last one coming in 2015. … Skyline started the year 1-4 at the Red Mountain tournament.
Coach: Don Baker, first season
Last year’s record: 22-12
Record last 10 years: 80-161 (.332)
Top players: Kennedy Bark (SS/P), Tiffany Eriacho (C/SS/2B)
Tournament: Dobson-Westwood Invite (Feb. 21-24); Gracie Lee Haught Classic (March 15-17)
Notes: Tied for second in the EV Region standings at 7-3 and beat Red Mountain for the first time in the MaxPreps era. … Bark was an honorable mention all-region pick last season after hitting .365 with 15 extra-base hits including four home runs as a freshman. … Eriacho hit .351 with 14 RBI. … Region player of the year Stacia Seeton (.616, 22 home runs, 67 RBIs) is playing at Bradley University. …The Warriors are off to a 2-6 start after stumbling at its own tournament.
– Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send Mesa-based story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.