By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
MADISON TOWNSHIP —
Madison coach Dan Fertig knew the Blue Streaks had to be careful with Riverside freshman Alexis Vargas, and he had a plan to avoid Vargas, but his two pitchers didn’t quite get execute it, and it cost them a 6-5 loss to Riverside in Premier Athletic Conference action.
“At the beginning of the game, we talked about not letting her see any good pitches,” Fertig said. “Unfortunately, we got a few a bit too close and she got them.”
It happened three times in the game. The first came in the first inning and led to a double to right that scored a pair of runs, giving the Beavers (15-2, 4-2 in PAC) a 3-0 lead after one frame.
In the third, she ripped another high and outside pitch far over the right-field fence for a two-run homer.
Then, with the score tied at 5-5 after a valiant rally by the Blues Streaks in the third to erase a 5-1 deficit, Vargas drilled 3-1 pitch over the right field fence for a solo shot.
“These were either her fifth or sixth homers of the season,” Riverside coach Bill Ross said. “She’s becoming our horse in a hurry as a freshman. We only have two seniors, so we’re young yet. The girls are working hard as a team, and we’re getting great leadership from our seniors.”
One of those seniors is Kayla Lynch, who in scattering seven hits while fanning six and walking only one, survived four-run third inning for Madison and got stronger as the game went on for the win. She fanned two of the three hitters the Blue Streaks sent up in the bottom of the seventh with the game on the line.
“We know when we come on the field to play Madison that it will be a tight game,” Ross said. “They are tough, never let down, and make you work for everything. Those were just two good teams out there today, and Alexis came through for us again. She may well be a solid Division I college recruit for us someday.”
Madison (6-11, 4-3 in PAC) tied the game in the third when Josie LaRiche led off with a single to center. A walk and sharp ground single to right by Abbie Thompson loaded the bases, and Amanda Mangelo ripped a liner to center for two runs. A wild pitch and infield out tallied two more, and the stage was set for Vargas to do her thing again in the fifth.
The only time Madison got her out came in the top of the seventh when a tight pitch in on her hands forced a pop foul to third base, but by then the damage had been done and Lynch put the final nails in the coffin to end the contest.
“I was pretty sure they would try to pitch me really tight inside,” Vargas said. “I hoped to get some strikes I could hit, I got a couple good ones I could reach, and I hit them well. Things are going well for me and for our team so far. I’m just glad to be a part of a total team effort.”
“We’re not doing a bad job,” Fertig said of his girls. “Today a good player just got some big hits.
Vargas’ trio of hits led to five RBI. Brittany Baitt reached base all four times she hit. That included a pair of singles and pair of pitches plunking her in the back. Rosie Nagy also had a pair of safeties.
Mangelo had the big hit for Madison with that bases loaded single, and Nikki Ochoa walked, scored a run and also doubled in the fifth for the Blue Streaks, but was the unfortunate starting pitcher who took the brunt of the early hits by Vargas. Alicia Major came on after the first homer and pitched well, with her only blemish being Vargas’ homer.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.