It just seems as though Yazmin Vargas comes up with a big play often times when the Garden City Buffaloes softball team most needs it.
That was never more evident than Friday evening when the Buffaloes found themselves in a 2-2 dogfight with host Emporia in the Round Ball Classic at Trusler Sports Complex.
It was the bottom of the fourth, and Vargas came to the plate with the bases loaded and promptly drilled a shot to deep center field, clearing the bases as Gisselle Gutierrez, Ryleigh Whitehurst and Reigan Crawford raced home to put the Buffs up 5-2. They would tack one more run on when Erykah Foster had an RBI single to score Vargas.
From there, the Buffs used a strong defense, the pitching combination of Hailey Dart and Vargas and two more insurance runs en route to an 8-4 victory over the Spartans. They won’t have much time to celebrate as they will play a 10 a.m. Saturday game against Class 5A Wichita Kapaun-Mt. Carmel in the final day of the Classic.
The Buffs improved their season record to 12-5, and after Saturday’s game will travel to Goodland for a 4 p.m. doubleheader on Monday to complete their regular-season schedule. The game with the Cowgirls is a reschedule from the season-opening weathered out games of April 3.
Head coach Trina Moquett was happy with her team’s performance all the way around — hitting (12 hits), defense (one error) and pitching (Dart and Vargas combined to give up just five hits).
“We had a lot of really good quality at-bats, and we swung at pitches what we wanted to do with the ball,” Moquett said. “We had the one error, but didn’t let it affect us afterward.”
Dart pitched the first 5 2/3 innings, giving up five hits and three runs while striking out six and walking five. She gave up a solo home run in the fifth, before Vargas came in to finish off the Spartans over the final 1 1/3 innings. Vargas gave up just one hit in relief.
“Hailey threw well early, and it was kind of nice to have Yaz come in and help her finish it out,” Moquett said. “Hailey was losing the strike zone a little, but both threw well. Yaz’s ball was moving like crazy and it was nice to see that aspect.”
Vargas and Whitehurst were the big factors on offense, each getting three hits and combining for five RBIs — Vargas the three off the triple, and Whitehurst two. Dart also contributed two hits to the attack.
“Yaz’s triple really came through clutch for us at that time,” Moquett said. “All the girls were in a good place, even when the score was tied at 2. They were competing well and when Yaz came through, it really opened the game up.”
After Emporia struck first with a single run in the opening inning, the Buffs answered on an RBI single by Laura Farmer. The Buffs went up 2-1 on Taylor Terpstra’s RBI single in the third, only to have the Spartans tie the score in the top of the fourth.
Emporia’s home run in the fifth made it 6-3, before Whitehurst got a 2-run single to score Abby Parr and Dart in the bottom of the fifth. The Spartans added one more run in the top of the seventh, but Vargas closed it out.