Two juniors have played a key role for the Razorback softball team this season. When this team’s seniors move on after the season is finished, these juniors will be ready to step into a leadership role.
Junior infielder Ashley Diaz, who mostly plays first base, is excited to have seen the turnaround of the program and can’t wait to continue it, she said.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be on this team because we have grown so much over the past couple years,” Diaz said. “It’s exciting to see the accomplishments that we have had over the past three years.”
The native from South El Monte, California, has played in 46 games and started in 45. She has been batting at a .301 average and has scored 17 runs, 40 hits, six home runs and 28 RBIs. Defensively, Diaz has made 256 catches and 249 putouts.
Playing right next to her is junior infielder Haydi Bugarin, who is an infielder for the team. Entering her senior year gives her mixed emotions, she said.
“Being a senior makes me both happy and sad,” Bugarin said. “My first three years here flew by way too fast. I am so proud to be a part of the turning point of the program. I’m excited to lead us to even more success.”
The San Antonio, Texas, native’s batting average is right behind Diaz’s at .283. She has started in all 44 games she has appeared in. Bugarin has made 23 runs, 30 hits, four home runs and 17 RBIs. With her glove, she has 136 catches and has put out 69 runners.
When she becomes a senior leader for the team, Diaz wants to continue the success from her junior campaign, she said.
“My main goal in my last year is to continue building on the success that we’ve had this year,” Diaz said. “I think if that would be one of our goals we would go really far because look at the progress that we have made this year, and as the years go on, we will continue to grow.”
Bugarin wants to put everything into her last year, she said.
“My main goal for my last year is to leave no regrets,” Bugarin said. “I’ve started to realize that our time as athletes is short. I want to be able to say that I gave this sport all that I had. I also want to rub that mindset off onto the rest of the team and to our younger classes so that we can tackle every practice and game like it’s our last.”
Senior year will be really difficult on the seniors, especially for Diaz, she said.
“It’s going to be hard letting go of this chapter in my life,” Diaz said. “I will miss the girls so much. I’ve been playing softball my whole life, and going into the next chapter, I don’t know what I want to do, but I’m excited.”
Bugarin wants to make sure that she lets her teammates know that she is ready to give it her all, she said.
“I am so excited to spend my last year of softball with them,” Bugarin said. “I can’t wait to continue the momentum from this season into our last.”
No matter the result of how next season will go, Diaz wants everyone to know that it’s been the best years of her life, she said.
“I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world,” Diaz said. “I love these girls and I love going to battle with them every day. It’s truly a blessing to be a part of this, and like I said before, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.”