Oree Foster
Staff Writer, AZPreps365.com

Softball: St. Michael pitchers Gabriella Simpson, Maya Ross lead the way

April 3, 2019 by Oree Foster, AZPreps365

St. Michael Lady Cardinals freshman pitcher Gabriella Simpson, left, and sophomore pitcher Maya Ross are arguably top hurlers in Arizona 1A classification. (Photo by Oree Foster)

St. Michael Lady Cardinals freshman lefthanded pitcher Gabriella Simpson and sophomore righthanded pitcher Maya Ross have worked hard this spring on their pitching techniques.

The duo have worked hard to become arguably the best 1A hurlers in the state.

Simpson and Ross have helped lead St. Michael to victories over 4A Lee Williams and 3A Chinle, Tuba City and Ganado.

Simpson said the Lady Cardinals' goal this season is earning a state tournament berth and win.

"My season is going pretty good so far," said Simpson. "I still have time to improve my game before state. I believe that we can reach our goal."

Ross said the Lady Cardinals are making a name for itself by beating a 4A school and three 3A teams.

"By beating a 4A school and three 3A schcols earlier this season, it shows how much talent we all have and how much we want to work hard to reach our goal," Ross said. "This year we are a young team with a lot of talent. Each one of us grew up playing softball with each other, so we are connecting well as a team/sistes. We work hard every day at practice."

Simpson said she set a personal goal when practice began to start the softball season.

"My personal goal is to get ahead in the pitch count, when pitching," Simpson said. "I'm still working on it. I have to be more selective on what pitxch to throw and see what works."

Ross said as a young player, she wants to learn how to play other positions.

"A personal goal of mine this year is to learn how to play other positions," Ross stated. "I want to play all the positions, whether its infield or outfield. I want to be open to more positions and not just one position. I also want to work hard on my pitching. I want to be confident in all my pitches. I want to work my corners, change-up and off-speed pitches. Defensively and offensively, I want to continue to work hard each day to become a better player. As a student, I want to work hard in the classroom and keep up my grades. On the field, I want to be the best teammate I can be."

Simpson said other than her best pitch, a fastball, she has learned how to throw a screwball.

"My best pitch is a fastball, because it naturally curves," Simpson noted. "I usually throw it during a 2-2 count. I taught myself to throw my best pitch. This past summer, I was able to get a pitching coach to help guide me and give me tips."

Ross is a challenging pitcher in the pitching circle. She has learned to throw a change-up, off-speed, drop ball, rise ball and curve ball.

"My best pitch is drop ball and off-speed pitches," Ross explained. "The best time to throw my best pitch, usually depends on the count and what the batter is swinging at. If the count is 3-2 and I want to get the out, I lean on my drop ball or off-speed and occasionally my change-up. I learn how to throw my best pitches from Ernest Bo Reeder. He taught me a lot, being confident in the pitching circle and using all my pitches and becoming a better defensive player."

Simpson learned how to pitch when she was 11 and Ross begin throwing at 8.

"I always had people ask me, since you are lefthanded, have you ever thought about pitching?" Simpson said. "So, one day, I decided to try it."

Ross said, "I wanted to try pitching and see how it goes. I tried it and I liked pitching, so I kept pitching and never gave up."

Simpson said she remembers a game that stands out this season. She pitched a shut out and belted her first high school career home run against Joseph City.

Ross said the game against Hopi Lady Bruins in the Joseph City tournament is a memorable game. She said it was raining and windy, but she kept the ball in the strike zone.

Simpson said a challenging game the Lady Cardinals played is Lee Williams twice in the Joseph City tournament. She said Lee Williams' batters were aggressive at the plate.

Ross noted that during the Chandler Prep tournament, Mogollon was a challenge.

"Mogollon batters were hitting the pitches I was throwing," Ross said. "My catcher told me to throw my pitches at the corners to right and left batters."

Simpson and Ross both agree that the Lady Cardinals have the talent and ability to win the 1A North Regional Championship this year. The duo believes the Lady Cardinals have to work hard in practice and show up for games ready to play.

Because of their youth, opposing teams will see Simpson and Ross in the near future in the pitching circle, throwinf hard with their various pitches.