Three Rivers softball juniors happy with regional experience
SANTA FE, N.M. — Final score aside, the coaches and players from the Three Rivers Little League Junior softball team weren’t about to focus on anything negative after the team was eliminated from the Southwest Regional tournament on Saturday.
“If anything, these girls can take this as a huge learning experience,” Juniors coach Jason Vargas said following is team’s 16-1, five-inning loss in an elimination game at Bicentennial Park.
“No, we didn’t get the outcome we wanted,” the coach continued. “Really, we were still kind of riding on the emotional high that we were the first team to ever do this.”
No doubt, however, the Three Rivers squad — the first one to ever win a state championship and advance to regional-tournament play — found out how much tougher the competition outside of Colorado was. In their elimination game on Saturday, the Juniors (13- and 14-year-olds) were limited to four base hits — including an RBI double from Lexi Valdez — by Arkansas pitcher Kyndall Willis.
Willis finished the game with eight strikeouts in five innings. Meanwhile, Arkansas combined to draw 15 walks and tally nine base hits against Three Rivers pitchers en route to the victory.
Morgan Needham, Brooklyn Vargas and Ariana Pena had the other hits for the Juniors, some of whom made their way back home with their parents after the loss while others hung around Santa Fe for some extended vacation and family time.
Either way, everyone felt the same way about the team’s season once it was over.
“These girls have nothing to hang their heads about,” Vargas said. “They’re very proud of what they’ve accomplished, but they’re taking this as a learning experience in an effort to get better. Down the road, I think these girls will.”
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It was a close game, but after some thrilling back-and-forth plays the Rifle Bears were able to pull off the 28-20 victory over The Academy on May 1.