City League Roundup: Beechcoft, Centennial, Northland softball teams work to find footing

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Centennial’s Jazmine Singleton high-fives teammates after scoring against visiting Northland on March 29. Singleton is a sophomore third baseman for the Stars, who are led by first-year coach Alexis Marsh.

Getting back on a softball field for the first time in about a year has been somewhat of an adjustment for Beechcroft senior Veronica Morgan. 

The Cougars had gotten in a handful of practices when the 2020 season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and many City League players such as Morgan aren’t year-round competitors in the sport. 

“It’s kind of funky being out of it for so long,” Morgan said. “We’re just getting everything warmed up, but you remember everything.” 

In 2019, Whetstone and Centennial shared the City-North Division championship at 13-1, with the Braves beating the Stars 11-8 in a playoff to advance to the City title game. 

Northland finished third at 10-4 and Beechcroft went 8-6 to place fourth. 

Junior Danielle Nunley was among the Cougars’ top players in 2019 when they went 10-9 overall, hitting .581 with 17 RBI and 18 stolen bases while playing second base. She is now seeing action at pitcher, first base and shortstop. 

Morgan is playing on the infield, including at first base, with senior Fury Kimber at catcher and junior Alese McNair in the outfield and first base. 

The only other senior for Beechcroft is Angel Coles, who could play a number of positions. 

The Cougars have a pair of sophomores looking to contribute in Valeria Figueroa and Jenesi Galan and six freshmen. 

Centennial has a new coach in Alexis Marsh, a 2016 graduate who has taken over after Malik Dean led the program for eight seasons. 

The Stars went 126-52 under Dean, including 109-10 in City-North action, and won consecutive City championships from 2014-16 before finishing as runners-up in 2017 and 2018.  

Centennial, which went 16-10 overall in 2019, has a trio of juniors who were key players as freshmen in Lauren Long (1B), Toni Sfikas (SS) and Kassy Stefanski (P). 

Stefanski batted a team-best .442 with three home runs, 10 doubles and 26 RBI and also was 8-6 with 149 strikeouts and a 1.10 ERA in 83 innings. Sfikas hit .406 with four triples, 32 runs and 23 RBI, and Long batted .354 with five doubles and two triples. 

The only seniors for the Stars are Joy Chambers (2B/1B) and Erica Crippen (C). The other junior is Alex Moore (1B). 

Others looking to contribute include sophomores Ava Adkins (RF), Tamarra Carter (CF/3B) and Jazmine Singleton (3B) and freshmen Zaria Brown (LF), Amelia Harris (C/CF), Eve Miller (LF) and Grace Murphy (P/RF). 

Marsh had been the junior varsity coach before taking over this spring. 

“I definitely feel as if we have a lot of potential to be (the City champion) this year,” Marsh said. “A lot of them have a lot of experience playing in middle school and high school. They’re very motivated, they’re coachable and have nothing but team spirit. We have a good group of girls.” 

Dan Zedeker, who is in his 11th season as Northland’s coach and has been coaching the sport for 29 years, has no returning players from the 2019 team that went 12-8 overall. 

“I have two girls that played j.v. their freshman year who are back,” Zedeker said. “I hate to re-invent the wheel, but I do need to change the spokes in that wheel. I do have some sweet kids.” 

The Vikings have no seniors. Junior Karmela Reed is at first base, with sophomore Monay Smith at second, sophomore Roshni Kami at shortstop and sophomore Nia Waugh at third. Freshman Tian Brady and sophomore Fartun Ali Mohamed are at catcher. 

Brady and junior Dalisa Roberts are the top pitchers. 

Junior Bless Anor is in left field, with junior Ke’aira Warren in center and sophomore Junia Dieubon in right. 

“It’s going to be a fun year,” Zedeker said.  

Northland junior setter Kam Kap bumps the ball during the Vikings' 25-22, 21-25, 25-19, 25-23 victory March 26 at Hartley.

Stars, Vikings begin 

volleyball season 

Five schools in the City League are fielding boys volleyball teams, including a first-year team from Centennial. 

Brittani Lewis, who has been coaching the Stars’ girls team the last four years, was to have coached the boys last spring before the season was canceled because of the pandemic. 

“We had five practices (in 2020) when the season ended,” Lewis said. “I think they enjoy it. It gets them out of the house and gets them ready to do something.” 

Deshaunte Battle (outside hitter/right-side hitter), Trevor Foley (outside hitter), Hassan Khan (middle hitter/outside hitter) and Ignacio Mariscal (middle hitter/outside hitter) have come out for the program as seniors. Junior Jay Ramirez (middle hitter/outside hitter) should be another key player on offense. 

Sophomore Daniel Najad Abdurahman is the setter, with junior Nate Foley and sophomore Kevin Sanchez working as defensive specialists.  

Sophomores Nicholas Cunningham and Yasen Dada are other outside hitters. 

Northland had just six players in attendance for its opening match, a 25-22, 21-25, 25-19, 25-23 victory March 26 at Hartley. 

“We have a team that plays very, very hard and wants to play the game of volleyball and fight through everything,” coach Cheri Bowman said. “I’m looking forward to what we’re going to do this year.” 

Seniors Mang Siang (setter) and Caleb Stallings (outside hitter) and juniors Kam Kap (setter), Khup Khai (defensive specialist), Khup Piang (defensive specialist) and Suam Tung (outside hitter) are leading the way for the Vikings. 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek