— In the spring of 2021, the Yavapai College softball team tallied an impressive 37-7 record en route to a fourth-place finish at the NJCAA Division I Softball Championship.
The upcoming 2022 squad will undoubtedly be looking for a repeat (or better) performance, however, will be doing so with a much different roster as the 2022 team welcomes back just six returners from last year’s squad.
In addition to the six returners, the Roughriders added 12 freshmen to the squad this fall, bolstering a roster that is ready to make a run at a national title.
“I couldn’t be more excited about the talent level of our 2022 team,” Head Coach Doug Eastman said. “I really can’t see a weakness! It’s now about work ethic and team chemistry, let the 2022 season begin!”
Meet The Freshmen
Lovey Kepa’a from Wahiawa, Hawaii, Makena Riggs from Phoenix, Arizona, and Yaya Kaaialii from Las Vegas, Nevada, make up the freshmen infielders for the Roughriders in 2022.
Kepa’a primarily plays shortstop while Riggs patrols third base with Kaaialii playing second base. During her senior season at Paradise Valley High School, Riggs earned First-Team All-Region honors while Kaaialii hit over .400 all four years at the Leadership Academy of Nevada while earning team MVP honors twice.
“If the fall season means anything, this infield can flat out pick it, not to mention they will all be hitting in the heart of the order,” said Eastman. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see 60-70 Home Runs hit with this impressive tandem!”
Behind the plate, the Roughriders added Jasmine Moreno from Covina, California, and Ashley Fields from Tucson, Arizona.
During her time at Charter Oak High School, Moreno earned First-Team All-League honors while Fields enjoyed a decorated career at Marana High School that included Second-Team All-Region honors during her sophomore and senior seasons.
“When I think of our catching staff the first thing that comes to mind is depth,” said Eastman. “Both Jasmine and Ashley can control the run game and both add considerable punch to the lineup.”
On the mound, Abby Cruz from Chino Hills, California, Genavie Espinoza from Corona, California, and Emily Darwin from Benson, Arizona, make up the freshmen pitchers.
While at Ruben S. Ayala High School, Cruz was her team’s MVP during her freshman and sophomore seasons while Darwin put together one of the most incredible high school resumes that one could imagine with countless accolades.
In addition to four years of varsity softball, Darwin played four years of varsity basketball and volleyball. On the diamond, Darwin helped lead her team to a state title and two runner-up finishes with 55 home runs, a .581 batting average and a 1.72 ERA in the circle.
“This pitching staff brings something different to the table,” Eastman said. “Emily brings power, Abby changes speeds and Genavie works down in the zone. These ladies will make a huge impact on our run to the National championship.”
In addition to Moreno and Darwin, Sierra Griego from Diamond Bar, California, Gabie Fregoso from Vacaville, California, Dana Seavey from Prescott, Arizona, and Jordan Allen from Napa, California, make up the freshmen outfielders.
Griego earned First-Team All-League honors as a sophomore and senior and added Female Athlete of the Year honors during her senior campaign.
As a senior at Will C. West High School, Fregoso was named team captain while Seavey earned First-Team All-Region honors with a .463 batting average during her senior year at Prescott High School. During Allen’s senior year at Vintage High School, she hit a whopping .562.
“This Freshman group brings all the tools needed to get the job done: speed, range and arm strength,” Eastman said. “This is our gap-to-gap group that will set the table and drive in runs but, make no mistake, they will flex with power also!”
— D.J. Irwin