Cleveland High softball coach Angel Castillo is in his 10th season in charge of the Storm, who were 21-1 in 2021, winning not only the 1-5A title but also the state crown 5A. His side’s 7-6 victory over Mayfield on February 26 was his 150th victory with the Storm. 10 questions were asked by the Observer; here are his answers:
The highlights of the 2021 season? Win the district championship and the state championship.
Worst nightmare(s) of the 2021 season? Having to wear masks at the end of May and until June; holding our breath for COVID-related cancellations and/or quarantines.
Best returning players for 2022? Tavia Fragua senior, Ryen Herman junior and sophomores Mercedes Lovato, Avi Fierro and Kayla Abeyta.
University newcomers? Juniors Alex Pabouceck and Layla Dickson, and sophomores Lilly Pabouceck, Mya Pacheco, Alivia Hughes and Layla King.
Who is the first girl in training and the last girl to leave? There really isn’t one person, as part of our philosophy if you’re early you’re on time and if you’re on time you’re late.
The team you face that if you beat you know it’s gonna be a good season? Season opener against Mayfield.
Who is the favorite or the pre-season favorite in District 1-5A? This neighborhood is so competitive it’s ridiculous. Rio Rancho, Volcano Vista and Cibola each lost 2-3 seniors last year, so they flip most of their college rosters.
In order for my team to get to the 5A State Championship softball game, we will need to: dig deep and expect the best game ever. Ultimately, you will have to be very stingy on the defensive side of the ball to have a chance.
What do you hear yourself say to your players, year after year? “If you compete, play hard for the girl next to you and do your best, we will always have a chance to win.”
What is the most important skill you hope your players have? Being able to throw and catch at a high enough level that we can play really good defense is pretty important in our program.
Assistant Coaches/Roles: Rikki Castillo and Annette Castillo, university assistants; Stacy Salinas and Katie Ripple, junior varsity coaches.