Head baseball coach Tony Cirelli watching his team scrimmage Park University on Oct. 6, 2023. (Photo by Dylan DeVlieger/Courtesy of Mesa Community College Athletics department)

Mesa Community College spring sports programs ready to start strong

Mesa Community College athletic teams are preparing for their seasons as the spring semester begins, with the men’s and women’s basketball teams in the midst of their winter seasons.

Teams playing their season in the spring include baseball, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, beach volleyball, and outdoor track and field. 

Below are quick updates for the sports getting ready to start their 2024 campaigns.

Basketball

Both basketball teams began their seasons in the winter and are right around the midway points of their season. The women’s team has enjoyed a productive season thus far, owning a 12-4 record and are all but guaranteed a playoff spot. The team is currently on a four game win streak following their most recent win against Scottsdale Community College on Jan. 17.

The men’s team is in their second season under head coach Lester Neal, and are in the midst of an eight game losing streak. The team currently holds a 4-12 record following their recent loss against Scottsdale Community College on Jan. 17. 

Baseball

The MCC baseball team finished the 2022-2023 season with a 22-33 record. Head coach Tony Cirelli is entering his 29th year leading the baseball team and is looking for improvement from his team. 

Last season was only the fifth time the team finished with a record below .500 under Cirelli, though injuries played a role in how the season went. This year will be the second  without assistant coach Doug Rose, who resigned after the 2022 season. 

An area where the team hopes to see noticeable improvement is pitching, where the team ranked in the bottom half of the country in earned run average and strikeouts. 

Softball

The MCC softball team will be led by interim coach Raychele Hernandez, a former player from 2016-2017. Hernandez follows Grady Moorhead, who resigned from the position following a 27-30 record last season. One player on the team, Rylee Liljenquist, serves as a dual sport athlete and also plays for the women’s soccer team. 

The MCC softball team meeting up at the mound during a scrimmage on Nov. 4, 2023. (Photo by Dylan DeVlieger/Courtesy of Mesa Community College Athletics department)

Tennis

The men’s tennis team looks to continue their dominance within the region for the 2024 season. The men’s team have won nine straight Region I championships, winning ten of the last eleven as well. The number one player from last year’s team, Harry Browning, is no longer with the team, however returning player Fritchard Mulenga will be looking to fill the shoes left by Browning.

Coach Feroz Rast (middle) giving teaching points to Fritchard Mulenga (left) and Asad Okoye (right) during practice on Sep. 23, 2023. (Photo by Dylan DeVlieger/Courtesy of Mesa Community College Athletics department)

The women’s team looks to continue its improvement since the hiring of head coach Feroz Rast in 2020. The team has finished in 2nd place in the conference for the past two years and looks to finish in the top 20 in the country for the first time under Rast. The team welcomes two new players, Mikaela Correa and Jackelin Almada Lopez. 

Beach Volleyball

The MCC beach volleyball team is the only team in the conference after Paradise Valley discontinued their team, meaning many games will be played against teams from California. 

The Thunderbirds were able to finish in 6th place in last year’s national championship tournament and have a strong roster heading into the 2024 campaign. Brynlee Barris and Abby Platt, who were also a part of the volleyball team in the fall, look to help push the team to a national championship.

Track and Field

Both indoor and outdoor track and field seasons will be taking place in the spring, with the indoor championships taking place at the beginning of March and the outdoor championships being held in early May.

Men’s and Women’s Golf

Details have not yet been announced by the athletic department regarding the schedule for either golf team. However, the men’s team finished last season in 5th place in the region, while the women’s team finished in 1st place in the region. 

Head coach John Guerrero earned Coach of the Year honors for helping guide the women’s team to the regional championship.

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