BEAUMONT – It was about to be a very bad week at the plate for the Beaumont softball team. But one pitch changed all of that.
Jillian Vasquez connected on a high pitch and lifted it over the center-field fence for a two-run homer Friday that lifted Beaumont to a 3-2 walk-off victory over Yucaipa in a Citrus Belt League game.
Until Vasquez’s dramatic shot, Beaumont (16-3, 2-1 in league) had mustered just one run in 15 innings for the week. Two days earlier, the Cougars had lost 1-0 to Cajon in nine innings.
Vasquez was in the middle of the offensive woes and had struck out in her first two at-bats Friday before coming up with the tying run at second and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning. Jasmine Placencia walked to open the seventh and was sacrificed to second by pinch-hitter Natalia Nol.
“I’ve been struggling a bit,” Vasquez said. “I knew what she (Yucaipa’s Delaney Saugstad) was throwing. It was the same pitch over and over, outside. But when I saw that pitch, right down the middle and high, I was ready. ”
There was some drama after the hit as Yucaipa center fielder Emily Gaines drew a bead on it, but ran out of room.
“Yeah, I was watching her,” Vasquez said.
It was a big moment for Vasquez, one of just two seniors in a lineup that features two freshmen and three sophomores.
“It’s tough for her,” Beaumont coach Frankie Fuimaono said of Vasquez. “For her to be a senior and be a leader, she’s been pressing a little. But I love that kid and she’s been nothing but the best for this program. I hope this kick-starts here. ”
Yucaipa (12-7-1, 2-1) kick-started the game, grabbing a 2-0 lead eight pitches into it.
Emma Martinez singled on the first pitch and, after a sacrifice, Emily Gonzalez hammered a no-doubt home run well over the left field fence. It was Gonzalez’s seventh of the season.
Despite working from behind in the count much of the day, Saugstad appeared capable of making the two runs stand up. She did not allow a hit until the fourth inning and she got help from catcher Saige Alexander, who threw out two runners attempting to steal a base in that inning.
Beaumont got within a run in the sixth when Keali Huss-Cochran doubled, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Leah Mays’ groundout.
That at least eliminated the possibility of a fourth shutout loss in the past six games.
Fuimaono pointed to a passive approach as the source of the Cougars’ offensive problems.
“I keep telling the girls we can not have the no-no-yes approach,” he said. “It should be the opposite – yes, yes, no. I do not want them swinging out of their boots, but we need to be more aggressive. ”
For Yucaipa, it was a lost opportunity. The Thunderbirds had seven hits, including three bunt singles by Gaines, but they left six runners in scoring position.
“We got the pitching and the defense was on point,” Yucaipa coach Alyssa Liu said. “We just left too many runners. That’s it. ”