After 30 years as coach and teacher in the Douglas Unified School District Abe Grijalva is retiring.
Now it’s on to softball where this will be his final, final season as the soon to be retired coach goes after his 300th career win as a softball coach at DHS.
“It’s been a long 30 years,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed coaching softball the last 17 years. Douglas has always been very successful in softball because of the type of players we get. They have made things somewhat easy for me having to just manage the team at game time.”
Grijalva’s coaching record currently stands at 297-68.
“At any level 300 wins is a milestone,” he said.
Grijalva’s Lady Bulldogs began the season on Monday hosting Buena. This weekend they are in El Paso, Tex. competing in a tournament that will hopefully get them ready for the upcoming season. Douglas will play three games on Thursday, three on Friday and two on Saturday.
The coach said last week he has seven returners coming back this year from a team that went 20-13 and included a first round state playoff loss to Scottsdale Notre Dame for the second straight year.
Among the returners for Douglas are pitchers senior Jennifer Montoya and junior Sydnea Estrella. Also returning are sophomores Marissa Morales, Andrea Lugo and Aileen Alegria and seniors Karina Avechuco and Brianna Salcido.
“If you look back over the years this is probably the youngest team I have ever had,” he said. “We have a group of kids that are very athletic but also very young.”
The coach said he feels this teams strength will be its pitching.
“We had to make some defensive changes because of the way our pitchers throw,” he said. “We’re going to try and put our strongest players in the middle.”
As a result the coach has moved Morales from third base to second base and Lugo over to short.
Avechuco will remain at first base and newcomers Jessica Quinonez and Marissa Holguin Torres are battling it out for the starting role at third base.
In the outfield the coach said there will be Salcido, Alegria and in left Holguin Torres and Meghan Maddux will jockey for playing time.
The Lady Bulldogs scrimmaged Valley Union last week and the coach said his team hit the ball well.
“Our concern right now is making the plays on defense,” he said. “For some reason we are kind of shaky. With time I think they are going to get better; hopefully we’ll be able to make the plays and we’ll be okay.”
The coach sees this year as being a “fun year”.
Despite being his last season the coach said he plans on pushing and coaching this team the way he has always done in his previous years as coach.
“We want to improve from last year,” he said. “Every year, every team that I have coached you want to beat the teams record from the previous year.”
The goal, the coach said, is to be one of the top 24 teams in our division to qualify for state and to do that his team must go out and play well each and every game and make the routine plays, regardless of who the opponent is.