Pima College softball coach Armando Quiroz is one victory away from reaching a new milestone in his coaching career: 500 wins.
The Aztecs mercy-ruled Scottsdale Community College in Tuesday’s doubleheader to get Quiroz his 499th win. The team will travel to Chandler-Gilbert Community College on Saturday for a doubleheader, and it’s possible — likely, even — that Quiroz will return home with a milestone win.
While the Aztecs have plenty of season remaining, Quiroz’s time is running out. The coach will undergo knee-replacement surgery on Wednesday and miss the rest of the regular season. Quiroz said he had no idea he was close to the milestone until Pima’s sports information director Raymond Suarez brought it up.
“We don’t count when we’re coaching or winning. We don’t count,” Quiroz said. “The number 500 never occurred to me before.”
Quiroz said he started having serious knee problems a couple of months ago. He tried to avoid surgery, but his left knee has gotten progressively worse. The coach said he’s had a hard time moving around his house.
Quiroz plans to attend the Aztecs’ games to support the team, even though he won’t be able to coach from third base or visit the mound. He said he’ll “leave the coaching to my assistants.”
His daughter, Rebekah, is associate head coach. Robert Campillo and Tony Rascon are assistant coaches.
The Aztecs also have Gene Gonzales, who’s been with the team as an assistant or volunteer for 24 years.
“I’ll make some suggestions, but I’ll basically leave it up to them,” Quiroz said. “They’re very capable.”
The leadership extends beyond the coaches. Pima’s roster includes eight sophomores, five of whom have played in more than 30 games this season.
“You just got to do what you got to do,” Quiroz said. “The game goes on. They don’t care if you’re limping or not. You have to stay with it.”
Quiroz said it’s important the team continues winning, even without him, so the Aztecs qualify for the postseason. Pima is 33-17 with eight regular-season games remaining.
“It’s been an up-and-down season,” Quiroz said. “We’ve been devastated by injuries. Injuries are part of the game, but we’ve really had our fair share this year. So the girls have kind of grouped together.
“We’re still in contention for playoffs, so it’s a tribute to them. We’re going to fight until our last day and see what happens.”