It didn't take long for Canyon del Oro to take the momentum from the 2012 state championship game into this season.
The Dorados opened the 2013 season with nine wins in their first 10 games; during that time, they outscored their opponents 83-27.
"I think we have a lot of leaders that are still juniors that were on the team last year, and they know what it takes to win," CDO coach Stephanie Nicholson said.
The Dorados will be in search of their third straight state title this season and will look to reach that goal with these three keys:
1. Pitching. For the third straight year, CDO will have a new ace in the circle.
Alexis Alfonso will be that player, replacing star right-hander Kayla Bonstrom, who is now at Stanford University.
"They have different types of speeds and pitches," Nicholson said. "Kayla would come at you more and had a good changeup to keep you off balance, but 'Fons' keeps you off balance with the movement that she has and as long as she keeps movement on the ball then she is good."
Alfonso has pitched in five games this season recording 23 strikeouts and an earned run average of 0.93. The senior pitcher said that her changeup is her favorite pitch, but she also likes to throw a screwball.
CDO also has freshmen Randi Longville and Sierra Gaskill to complement Alfonso.
2. Leadership. Junior catcher Samantha Nettling will help the young pitchers develop. Nettling has been behind the plate all throughout her high school career and has worked with the likes of Bonstrom and Mattie Fowler, now at Nebraska.
"Sammy has been there in the key roles especially in last year's game," Nicholson said. "She really takes (the pitchers) under her wing and encourages them to hit their spots."
Nettling can also get the job done at the plate with a .394 average and a team-high 14 RBIs.
"Being one of the older players now, it definitely helps in grooming the younger girls to try to win one this year," Nettling said.
3. Youth. With only three regulars returning to the Dorados' lineup, the team will be relying on six new players. The youth of the team has shown on defense where they have committed 17 errors in 10 games.
"That's not the best outcome you want for defense, but our hitting has kept us in games," Nicholson said.
Those bats have led to a team batting average of .348 allowing the Dorados' gloves time to improve.
"I think the biggest difference is going to be our defense this year," said Nettling. "We have to work as a team every day and never forget what the goal is."
• Caitlin Doster, Fr., Academy of Tucson
• Brooklyn Misenhimer, Jr., Sahuaro
• Alexis Clinton, Sr., Ironwood Ridge
• Anne Scarangella, So., Salpointe Catholic
• Alison Hervey, Sr., Cienega
• Alexis Alfonso, Sr., Canyon del Oro
• Kelsey Smith, Jr., Empire
• Sigi Sanchez, Sr., Sahaurita
• Shayna Adelstein, Sr., Mountain View
• Sarah Chavez, Sr., Desert Christian
Note: Athletes chosen by Star staff in consultation with area coaches.