The transformation is underway.
It sounds odd because Dallas Escobedo went 33-3 with nine no-hitters, two perfect games, 500 strikeouts and a 0.58 ERA in her senior season at St. Mary's. But there are reasons she's already enrolled at Arizona State to take classes and get a tutorial on college softball workouts.
Every morning, the mother of the national high school strikeout record-holder (1,882) and arguably top high school player in the country, drops her daughter off at the ASU shuttle bus stop where she takes the 45-minute ride to the Tempe campus.
She's gotten lost a couple times around the enormous ASU campus - a far cry from small St. Mary's - and is taking media and sociology classes, a study hall and already getting pushed in the weight room.
She works out with her club softball team, but was hurting during her first workout at ASU. She played with or against current Sun Devils' Talor Haro and Katelyn Boyd earlier in high school, but verbal warnings of what's upcoming only go so far.
"I wanted to finish and wouldn't quit in the middle, that's embarrassing," she said.
It's only going to get tougher.
"I'm working harder and I'm ready for the change," she said. "I want to be in the national championships like (ASU won in 2008). I know it's going to be hard work."
Expectations have grown higher for Escobedo since she committed to the Sun Devils her sophomore year, but, fair or not, she kept living up to them.
She tossed a perfect game with 21 strikeouts in the Bullhead City/Mohave tournament against top California teams to begin this season. She threw nine no-hitters during the regular season, and another perfect game against Sierra Vista Buena to open the 5A-I playoffs which she won by hitting a two-run home run in the eighth inning.
The Knights eventually lost to Red Mountain, 2-0, in the state championship game. Those were the only runs she allowed in the two-week tournament, but it kick-started what figures to be the most difficult and potentially rewarding phase of an already-historic softball career.
"I feel like if I work hard enough I'll be in the ASU lineup," she said. "Redshirt is not an option. They've been waiting for me."
All-Tribune Softball First Team
Player School Year Pos. Comment
Dallas Escobedo St. Mary's Sr. P Once-in-a-decade pitcher: 33-3, 0.58 ERA and 500 Ks; batted .412, nine HRs, 29 RBIs
Mel Willadsen Red Mtn. Sr. P Best player in 5A-I postseason threw shutout in title game; went 23-3 with 1.20 ERA, 173 Ks; hit .433, 10 HRs, 52 RBIs
Desiree Mejia Basha Sr. C Powerful hitter with 82 RBIs in past two seasons; terrific defensively
Chelsea Rodriguez Highland Sr. IF .500, 13 HRs, 50 RBIs and 40 runs; was even better in playoffs
Kelsey Rodriguez Seton Sr. IF Best player on two-time 4A-II champs headed to Pacific
Sierra Rodriguez Basha Sr. IF Had little problem moving to leadoff and switching positions
Kasey McCravey Desert Mtn. So. IF .469 with school-record 60 hits, 34 runs, six HRs, 30 RBIs
Courtney Sherwin Red Mtn. Jr. OF Hero of 5A-I championship hit .505, nine HRs, 48 RBIs and 53 runs
Mary Spiel Corona del Sol Sr. OF Power/speed version of Sierra Rodriguez also ASU-bound
Leah White Horizon Jr. OF Arguably fastest player in state; .500, 42 SBs, 49 runs, cannon arm
Rae Ball Chaparral Sr. UT 18-8, 1.15 ERA, 215 Ks; .320, three HRs, 27 RBIs
Nicole Bailey Notre Dame So. DH .469, 31 runs, four HRs, 32 RBIs, 16 SBs
Player of the Year: Dallas Escobedo, St. Mary's
Coach of the Year: Rich Hamilton, Red Mountain: His staff kept the team together through 2009 championship heartbreak, another loser's bracket grind and an off-the-field issue during this year's state tournament to go 36-4 and win the 5A Division I championship.
All-Tribune Softball Second Team
Player School Year Pos. Comment
Amanda Baldwin Queen Creek So. P Desert Sky Player of the Year was a .400 hitter
Olivia Bergman Seton Jr. P Two-time state champion pitcher's dominance continued
Katie Appelbe Xavier Jr. C Formed formidable battery with P Courtney Martin
Gracie Goulder Cactus Shadows Jr. IF .481, 33 runs, 17 RBIs, 31 SBs
Dillan Firestone Desert Mtn. Sr. IF .387, 36 runs, four HRs, 32 RBIs for 5A-II semifinalists
Raianna Dobbs Queen Creek So. IF Batted .425 with 29 RBIs
Haley Culley Red Mtn. So. IF .463, 59 runs, 26 SBs; improved defense after switch from OF to SS
Brandi Heimburg Arcadia Jr. OF Superb fielder hit .524 with five triples, 28 runs, 19 RBIs
Sara Goodrum Red Mtn. Jr. OF .471, 44 runs, 32 RBIs, 15 SBs; had eight RBIs in playoffs
Kale Gahn Pinnacle Sr. OF .455, three HRs, 37 runs, 29 RBIs and 15 SBs
Taylor Secemski Saguaro So. UT 15-9 record, 2.00 ERA, 203 Ks; .412, three HRs, 32 RBIs
Taylor Beck Red Mtn. Sr. DH .403, 37 runs, 34 RBIs, .957 fielding percentage
Apache Junction: Lindsey Skinner Jr., C; Chelsey Streibich Sr., IF. Arcadia: Jessica Whitis, Sr., OF. Basha: Raven Hooks, Sr., OF; Kailey Regester, So., P; Lauren Regester, Jr., IF. Cactus Shadows: Camille McIver, Jr., P. Chandler: Kayla Escobar, Fr., OF. Chaparral: Taylor Benally, Sr., OF; Samantha Davis, Jr., IF; Jen Schellenberg, Sr., IF. Corona del Sol: Abby Spiel, So., UT; Katie Tripp, Jr., UT; Taylor Tometich, Jr., IF. Coronado: Kaicee Horn, Sr., OF. Desert Mtn.: Hanna Anderson, Sr., OF; Maddie Francis, Jr., UT. Desert Ridge: Jackie Hernandez, Fr., IF; Lexi Large, So., P; Megan Steffensmeier, Sr., C; Laurent Stauss, Jr., IF/OF; Desert Vista: Erica Cade, Sr., OF. Dobson: Kishan Cooper, Fr., IF/OF; Donna Lavigne, Sr., IF; Richele Shuler, Sr., IF; Gilbert: Michelle Duncan, Jr., P; Alexa Redman, So., OF; Alex Vela, Jr., IF. Hamilton: Stephanie Rieck, Sr., IF; Highland: Caitlin Konicek, Sr., OF; Christine Napodano, Sr., P; Higley: Danielle Nelson, So., OF. Horizon: Nicole Newbury, So., IF; Margaret Stahm, Fr., UT. Horizon Honors: Mikaela Downes, So., C; Shelby Simms, So., OF; Kayte Volden, Sr., UT; McClintock: Lindsey Edgerton, Sr., IF; Dynasty Lauvai, So., P. Mesa: Aubrey Whitmer, So., IF. Mesquite: Alexis Lawton Sr., IF; Breona Peralta, So., OF; Ayssa Vargas, Jr., IF. Mountain Pointe: Arielle Cano, Sr., IF; Holly Phillips, Sr., OF. Mountain View: Cece Evans, Sr., C; Aly Ramsaier, Sr., IF. Notre Dame: Tess McPherson, So., OF. Paradise Valley: Alexis Nixon, Fr., IF; Alisha Ramirez, So., IF. Perry: Toni Martinez, Jr., IF; Chelsea Tate, Sr., IF; Jessica Wilkinson, Jr., P. Pinnacle: Katie McCallister, So., IF; Willow Kalinen, Fr., OF. Queen Creek: Kelsey Montgomery, So., IF; Briana Powell, Sr., OF. Red Mountain: Brittany Dvorak, Jr., IF; Ashley Sunderhaus, Jr., IF. Saguaro: Shannon Grossman, So., UT; Elise Oldham, So., IF; Dom Shupe, Sr., C. St. Mary's: Ariel Armandariz, Jr., C; Kerissa Burruell, Jr., IF; Bianca Fajardo, Sr., IF; Keanna Lomeli, Jr., IF Scottsdale Christian: Kenzie Cote, Fr., IF; Annie Fouts, Fr,, OF. Seton Catholic: Madison Austin, So., OF; Alicia Boyd, Sr., IF; Megan Johnson, Sr., C; Melissa Niedfelt, Sr., OF; Courtney Rodriguez, So., IF. Skyline: Reba DePriest, Jr., P; Sella Gonzalez, Jr., OF. Tempe: Stephanie Pesqueria, Sr., UT; Jade Wilson, Sr., IF. Tempe Prep: Monica LeBeau, So., IF; Caroline Libsock, Fr., P; Marissa Rich, Fr., C Valley Christian: Sam Frank, So., DH; Larae Hunt, Fr., C; Tana Kemmer, Fr., P; Heather Olinger, Sr., IF. Williams Field: Kailey Brittain, Jr., C; Sierra Vigil, Jr., IF. Xavier: Emma Bogart, Jr., IF; Courtney Martin, Sr., P; Amity Tello, Jr., UT; Trish Thompson, Sr., P/OF.
Memorable Moments from the 2010 Season
• Red Mountain did what it's done best in recent years: Win the hard way. The Lions were No. 2 in the 5A-I state tournament but lost their first game to fall into the bottom bracket (similar to the 2006 championship and 2009 runner-up teams). Then the Lions reeled off seven consecutive wins in 10 days to win the championship. Along the way came a stirring eighth-inning home run by Mel Willadsen to beat defending-champion Basha, a 3-2 victory against Highland in which the Lions were shorthanded and two consecutive blowouts against Glendale Mountain Ridge in the semifinals. Facing the most dominant pitcher in the state (and perhaps the country) in Dallas Escobedo, Courtney Sherwin's two-run home run was all Willadsen and the defense needed in a 2-0 victory against No. 1 St. Mary's.
• Seton Catholic may have gotten a scare when Higley beat the Sentinels late in the regular season for Seton's first power-points loss in two years. No harm, no foul, as the Sentinels marched to a second consecutive 4A-II state championship in its third season since moving up from 3A. Heavy favorites in 4A-II from the start, the Sentinels lived up to outside hype by winning games against bigger schools in the Desert Mountain Invitational and Best of the West tournament in California. A core group of Olivia Bergman, Kelsey and Courtney Rodriguez, Megan Johnson, Alicia Boyd, Melissa Niedfelt and Madison Austin returned from last year's championship run, and outside the late-season loss to Higley, the Sentinels were rarely threatened through the tournament.