Sarah Vargas did it for the team.
It ended up helping her, too.
Vargas, who recently completed her junior year on the Archbishop Ryan High School softball team, was the starting pitcher on the varsity team when she was a freshman. But when sophomore year rolled around, it was decided it would be best for the team if Vargas slid over to first base and freshman Dana Bell would get the ball.
It took some getting used to at first, but Vargas was the ultimate team player and did everything in her power to help the freshman get acclimated.
At the same time, she found herself loving the new position.
“I really tried to help her because she’s really good, but I knew what it was like to be a freshman starting pitcher,” Vargas said. “I got to be really close with her, she’s one of the best people I’ve ever met. She’s always trying to help, so I’m there for her, to talk with her.
“When it first happened, I was a little upset, but now first base is great. I love it. I’m really having fun there. And whenever she needs help, I go out and talk to her. We’re close and I’ve been there, so I think I’m able to help her. We work together really well.”
In Vargas’ first season at first base, she helped the Ragdolls bring home a Catholic League championship. This year, they were unable to repeat, but they did have a solid year that included a trip to the Catholic League semifinals.
The Ragdolls then went on to win the District 12 Class 5A championship and advanced to the state playoffs before falling to Lampeter Strasburg 15-5 in a first-round game.
The season was full of ups and downs, and it helped Vargas continue to grow as a player, especially in the leadership role. Next year, she’ll be a senior. She’ll be ready to be the player everyone looks to when they need something.
“My parents are both great leaders and they’ve taught me to be a good leader, I think,” Vargas said. “They’re very loud when they need to be. They helped me so much in that. My dad was my first coach in rec ball. My mom was a swimmer. They were both good at sports, but more than that, they’re good leaders for me in sports and in life.
“It would mean a lot to me to be a leader. I think I can be the type of player who encourages other girls when they need it. I’ve played for a while, I have experience. I think I could be one of those leaders.”
That’s something the Ragdolls will certainly need.
Ryan might not have brought home a Catholic League championship this year, but the Ragdolls have made a habit of winning them over the past few seasons. Most teams would be more than happy to win one in the past three seasons, but prior to her freshman year, Ryan had won three consecutive Catholic League championships. This year, the Ragdolls were a few hits away from making the championship game.
Next year, Vargas believes she could be a leader on a team that brings home the plaque once again.
“We have a lot of talent coming back,” Vargas said. “Dana will be back. We have a lot of hitters. We work hard, if we come back, I don’t see why we wouldn’t be one of the teams to beat. It’s always going to be tough, but I think we have everything it takes. We have done it before, we know what it takes. We will work for it, and I think we can do it.”
A Catholic League championship is just one of many things the Torresdale resident hopes to achieve in her final year at Ryan.
She wants to continue to grow as a leader and player, but she also wants to show she’s a leader off the field, too.
A longtime member of Athletes Helping Athletes, next year she’ll be the president of the group that pairs Ryan athletes with special-needs athletes. This year, the president of the group was Megan Kidd, who like Vargas was a swimmer and played softball.
The group has really helped Vargas figure out her future. It’s also been one of the most rewarding things she’s done at the school.
“I love it, it’s seriously the best thing I do, out of all the clubs and sports,” said Vargas, who is also in the Ambassador’s Club. “I want to major in speech pathology and it’s because of how much I’ve learned working with them. It’s really become my passion. It’s a pretty amazing group.”
It’s just another reason to look forward to her senior year.
“This year was great, but I’m excited about next year,” said Vargas, who will work as a counselor this summer at St. Katherine’s camp. “I’m really glad I came to Ryan. It’s been great in softball and school. Next year will be great, too.” ••