Yazzie cracks grand slam in All-Star game

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

FARMINGTON, June 14, 2012

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(Times photo - Paul Natonabah)

TOP: North All-Star Taylor Yazzie, from Kirtland Central, rounds third base and high-fives coach Tracy Vunkannon after Yazzie's grand slam. The North All-Stars defeated the South All-Stars, 11-1.

SECOND FROM TOP: North All-Star Taylor Yazzie, from Kirtland Central, is named MVP at the conclusion of Class 4A-5A North-South All-Star softball game in Farmington. Yazzie hit a grand slam to lead the North All-Stars to an 11-1 win.

T he damage was already done, but Taylor Yazzie just added more fuel to the

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, the former Kirtland Central ace took a pitch right down the middle and smacked a grand slam to push the North All-Star team comfortably in front with an 8-1 advantage.

"It was right where I wanted so I just jumped on that," Yazzie said of the first pitch thrown by South All-Star Jillian Navarrette of Carlsbad.

Things got even worse for the South squad as the North came up with four more hits to end the game at 11-1 in the sixth.

Nonetheless, the South team clinched the series, 2-1. In the first game they run-ruled the North with an 11-2 win before they posted a nail-biting 7-6 win in the second last Friday night.

But in Saturday's finale, the North went through its line-up four times and pounded out 15 hits with the biggest hit coming from Yazzie.

That hit was her fourth career grand slam in high school and afterwards she was named the MVP for the North squad.

"I feel very honored to be selected," Yazzie said. "We have a lot of talent in this state and it feels great to play with all these All-Stars for my last high school game."

Piedra Vista assistant coach Bryan Chavez said that this was fifth straight year that a player from the District 1-4A has received the MVP award.

"We come from one of the toughest districts in the state," Chavez said. "And she's the second Kirtland Central pitcher that's won this award."

Natisha Nakai was the other Kirtland player who was named the All-Star MVP. She won that award during the 2010 season.

"I know her very well," Yazzie said of Nakai, who currently plays for Rose State College, a community college in Midwest, Okla. "She's a person that I really look up to."

Next season, Yazzie will offer her expertise for the Scottsdale Community College softball team and will play pitcher, third baseman or shortstop.

"I can play any position, but I like pitching," she said.

As for the All-Star series, Yazzie said they could have played better, but it was a matter of "jelling" together.

"We were just trying to get to know each other," she said. "The momentum just wasn't there for us."

Piedra Vista third baseman Courtney Nacki agreed.

"A lot of us haven't been practicing so I think we were a little more tense than usual," Nacki said of their first two games. "But today we just let the game go and we were a little more relaxed."

Nacki was one of three All-Stars who played for seven-time state champs Piedra Vista Lady Panthers.

"It wasn't easy," Nacki said of winning their latest title. "We lost a lot of good players last year so we had to really work hard.

"But from the first day we wanted to win another state championship," she added. "We wanted it to be perfect, so all of our practices were really intense and it paid off at the end."

Currently Nacki said she is still deciding on what school to attend, but she is leaning towards Luna Community College in Las Vegas, N.M.

"There is a junior college here today from California that is looking at me, too," she said.

That same college has also showed an interest in Kirtland Central grad Shaycie Antene.

"It feels good to play with some of the best players in the state," Antene said. "This was a good opportunity because they were some college scouts here to watch you."

The North team also had six other local players on the All-Star team headed by Farmington ace pitcher Chelsea Chavez, who closed out Saturday's game with three strikeouts.

Other All-Stars included: Bloomfield's Ashley Archibeque, Kirtland Central's Cheyanne Emerson, Piedra Vista's Briana Gautheir, Piedra Vista's Jasmine Hernandez and Farmington's McKayla Slade.

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