“My dad taught me everything I need to know about softball,” said Vanessa Vargas. “He’s the best teacher I’ve ever had,” she said, proudly wearing the same number 11 on her jersey that her father, Greg, wore at Pepperdine College.
Carrying 19 units while maintaining a 3.0 grade point average, the 19-year-old sophomore has played softball with a passion since Little League and is now the premier shortstop for the Vaqueros’ women’s team.
“She has great lateral movement, a major arm, and she’s got a great first jump,” said Coach Dave Wilder. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up playing for a DII [division two] or even a DI [division one] university. She’s that good.”
A varsity swimmer and basketball star at South Pasadena High, Vargas comes from a family in which everyone played sports. Her younger brother, Vinnie, 18, plays for varsity baseball and football teams at Eagle Rock High, while her two younger sisters, 16 and 14, both play softball and basketball. Vargas’ mother has played high school softball, and keeps active with her husband Greg in a co-ed league today.
Last year when Coach Wilder’s squad came off its winningest season with a 16-21, and 10-13 season, Vargas hit .400 en route to All-Conference Second-Team honors as a freshman. For the 2001 season, Vargas has goals of her own to uplift her team, acknowledging that GCC Softball has never reached playoffs in its four-year existence.
“We’re capable of making playoffs this year,” said Vargas. “We have much more talent than last year. On any given day, anyone could beat anyone.”
One characteristic that makes her a softball standout is her issue with fear on the field. She has none, according to her Coach Wilder.
“She’s not afraid of anything,” said Coach Wilder. “She takes balls off her chest and she makes other players play harder.”
When Vargas is not on the field, she’s working part-time as a marketing researcher 12 hours a week. She would love to continue to play softball, possibly for San Diego State University where warm weather is plentiful. Majoring in communications, she hopes to go into public relations as a broadcast journalist.
“Vargas has a wonderful attitude when it comes to the game,” said Coach Wilder.
“I stay calm,” said Vargas of her mental strengths. “I do my best when I have a smile on my face.”
It is no wonder why she always seems to be smiling.