Tuba City lands coach, three seniors on all-star softball squad

By Quentin Jodie
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, May 30, 2013

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(File photo)

Tuba City ace hurler Shinaya Henry was recently selected to compete at next month's Arizona Softball Coaches Association All-Star Game. Besides Henry, Tuba City also had centerfielder Deidra Johnson and shortstop Tiona Huskie make the all-star team.

C onsidering the talent pool, the Tuba City softball team made quite an impression during the 2013 season.

The Tuba City squad finished the year with a 17-12 record and participated in the Arizona Division III state playoffs earlier this month.

On May 18, the Lady Warriors landed three seniors – Shinaya Henry, Deidra Johnson and Tiona Huskie – to the North All-Star team that will play in the Arizona Softball Coaches Association All-Star Game on June 15 in Show Low, Ariz.

Moreover, Tuba City coach Jon Yazzie will get an opportunity to coach one more game before he starts his new career as a school administrator. This will be his second stint as the head coach at the all-star game, having coached the North team during the 2010 season.

On May 24, Yazzie left the Tuba City school district after teaching for seven years. In five of those years he headed the Lady Warrior softball team.

"If you think about it, there are 55 teams in Division III and if you combined that with Division IV there are more athletes to consider for making the all-star team," Yazzie said. "So it makes it more difficult to make because there are 100-plus teams to consider."

On top of that, Yazzie said the selection committee has a difficult time making their selections since they don't get a chance to see any of the players during the season.

"They have to go by stats and that is how they are nominated," he said. "They look at batting average, strike outs, ERA and stuff like that but you're getting the cream of the crop with these all-stars."

Henry, who finished the year with a 14-8 record, a .135 ERA and 286 strikeouts from the mound, was selected as one of the North's pitchers. Offensively she batted .390 with two home runs and 25 RBI.

"She was one of the top three pitchers in the state with strikeouts," Yazzie said of Henry.

Next year, Henry will suit up for the Lady Coyotes of Chandler Gilbert Community College, a team coached by Shelby Davis.

"Well, I never been selected for anything but I am really excited about getting this experience and playing with different girls from all over the state," Henry said of her all-star selection.

Johnson, who played centerfield, will also join Henry at Chandler Gilbert next spring.

"That's the plan," Johnson said, while adding that she carried some doubt on whether she would be playing at the next level.

"My coach was always confident in me, telling me that I was a great softball player," she said. " I believed him to a certain extent but it was kind of unreal when the Chandler (Gilbert) coach approached me. I didn't think I would be getting any offers but this is a dream come true and now I have an opportunity to play at the next level."

Yazzie called Johnson "one of my best hitters" on the Tuba City squad. For the year she batted .341 and led the team in two categories with three home runs and 27 RBIs.

Defensively Johnson had 25 putouts and had a fielding average of .893, second best on the team.

"Not only does she have great numbers as far as fielding percentage, she also has a great personality," Yazzie said. "She works very hard and she has really improved with her mechanics."

As for making the all-star squad, Johnson said it was an honor to be selected.

"This is a real honor and I am very humbled," Johnson said. "It really means a lot especially being a senior."

Huskie, who played shortstop and second baseman, is also headed to Chandler Gilbert, hoping to walk-on to the Coyote volleyball team.

"I'm going to miss playing softball but I'm looking forward to playing with Deidra and Shinaya one more time," Huskie said. "We've been playing with one another since the seventh grade."

All three players said they were grateful to be selected but they were real happy that their coach was given another opportunity to coach them one last time.

"For him to be coaching us at the all-star game is amazing," Johnson said of Yazzie. "He's a great coach and he deserves to be there."

Yazzie said it's going to be hard stepping away once the all-star game is over but in the years that he's coached softball, both at the high school and club ball level, he's managed to get 10 girls playing college softball.

"I feel like I have done a great job in the years that I've coached," he said. "I'm going to miss it but I was given the opportunity to be an administrator so I felt that it was time to move up."

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