The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Vasquez steals the show in her first season, wins RRAC and NFCA honors

Vasquez steals the show in her first season, wins RRAC and NFCA honors - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Jags junior infielder/outfielder Peyton Vasquez standing on second against Louisiana State University-Alexandria during the Red River Athletic Association Conference Tournament on May 7, 2022. Photo by Raul Trey Lopez

Coming off a successful softball season with the Jaguars, senior infielder/outfielder Peyton Vasquez has solidified herself as one of the top players in the Red River Athletic Conference. Whether at the plate, on the base path or on the field, Vasquez was an important contributor to the program’s success during her first year. 

Vasquez led the team with a .472 on-base percentage, .396 batting average, 67 hits and 25 walks while being a wall at second base and right field as she committed only two errors in 97 chances. 

Vasquez’s averages speak for themselves as she sat well above the team’s overall batting average of .279 and .364 on-base percentage. 

Her stellar play earned her first-team all-conference honors in the RRAC. While the award is won by individual play, Vasquez expressed her happiness for freshman third baseman Andrea Ortiz and senior center fielder Vanessa Garces. 

“I’m honestly extremely proud of Vanessa and Andrea,” she said. “ Vanessa, that was her senior year and she made it: she got recognized and I know that meant the world to her. And Andrea, for it to be her freshman year and she gets recognized — that’s huge, that’s a huge deal, and I’m so proud.

Individually, I’m proud of myself because this is something that, athletically, I’ve worked for, and it was honestly something I didn’t think was going to happen. I just played, and if it happened, then it happened, but I am proud of myself as well.” 

-Peyton Vasquez, A&M-San Antonio’s softball senior second baseman/right fielder

Vasquez expressed the importance of having three players get all-conference honors in the program’s second season. 

“It shows that our team is growing and it’s not just little growth, that is a huge accomplishment for the program altogether,” she added. 

On top of the recognition by the RRAC, Vasquez was assigned to the Second Team of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, Region 2, by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

Vasquez said this honor was “definitely a surprise” and when Jag’s head coach Nicole Dufour called to let her know about the achievement, she was shocked.

However, these achievements aren’t the driving force behind her motivation, Vasquez said. 

“What pushes me is helping the team be successful,” she said. “I’m a very competitive person, so winning, in general, is what pushes me.” 

Vasquez’s journey to Texas A&M University-San Antonio is unique because of the miles traveled to get to the southside.

Vasquez is from Porter, located northeast of Houston.

Her decision to play softball at the next level started at Cisco College, north of Dallas. 

In two years with the Wranglers, Vasquez played 74 games while hitting a .363 batting average, 78 hits, 67 runs, 55 stolen bases and 21 runs batted in. 

Following the 2020-21 season, Vasquez said she had a few offers to transfer and that A&M-San Antonio “stood out” to her. 

“The coaches made me feel like I was very wanted there and that I was needed,” she said. “That was very helpful with feeling relaxed about going in and doing what I need to do and not stressing out about whether or not the coaches truly wanted to be there.

“Also, it’s very close to home compared to Cisco,” she added. “It’s a whole two-hour shorter drive.” 

Vasquez explained how making friends when adapting to a new environment was the “most difficult” part, but her team made the transition easy. 

“Everyone was friendly and we were able to all just get along pretty quickly,” she said of her teammates.

Vasquez said she recounts having a rough first week on campus but that coach Dufour helped ease her nerves. 

“She gave me a call, and she told me that she knows what I’m capable of and she trusts me,” she said. “That just helped me so much to relax, and I was able to produce for her what she expected me to be able to do.”

Vasquez added that coach Dufour’s “very caring” personality has brought out the best in her on the field while feeling like Dufour is always a phone call away. 

“She checks in on us and she is just a very considerate person, which is nice to have as a coach because you need to be able to trust your coach.” 

Vasquez described her first year with the Jags as “absolutely incredible” and is excited to be returning for her senior season. 

The Jags went 23-30 overall and 14-14 in conference games while also playing in the Red River Athletic Conference tournament. 

Vasquez took over the lead-off hitter role in the lineup, which saw her use her ability to get on base and get in scoring position.  

 Vasquez explained that the mindset of being a lead-off hitter is about “reading the scenarios” because each team will make certain defensive adjustments. 

“There are some teams that can cover a bunt very easily, so I’m not going to do that. I’m going to try and slap for power,” she said. “There are teams that are going to back up on me, so I’m going to play short.

“Ultimately, whenever I figure out if I’m doing power or if I’m trying to slap soft, then my brain is like, ‘see ball, hit ball.’ I just try to keep as simple as I can in the (batters) box because once you start to overthink it, you get in your head and your success rate automatically goes down.”

Dufour explained how impactful Vasquez’s play was as the leadoff hitter for the team. 

“We got to a place this season where if we knew Peyton got on, we were going to score,” Dufour said in a July 13 interview. “She’s so talented and she works really hard. We have confidence in her … we have faith in her, and we just want to sit back and let her do her thing.

“I didn’t really give her any signs,” she added. “She has great knowledge of the game.” 

Alongside Dufour, Garces, who is now a former teammate of Vasquez, had high praise for her game on and off the field. 

“Peyton is just a phenomenal athlete all around,” Garces said in a June 2 interview. “She didn’t even have to be a softball player, she’s just amazing in general.” 

Vasquez got on base so consistently that it led to her being dangerous on the base path, resulting in 45 stolen bases, which led the RRAC and placed Vazquez at 13th in the NAIA this past season. 

When stealing bases, Vasquez’s method stems from a saying that her dad would tell her. 

“If you’re not leaving early, you’re late,” she said her dad explained to her. 

Vasquez said that many coaches in the conference would talk to the umpires since they believed she “left early” when attempting to steal. 

Dealing with this almost every time she would steal, Vasquez said she finds it flattering, using it to give her “more confidence” on the base path. 

Vasquez said she remembers an instance where a coach said, “she’s going to steal, be ready.” That team was still unsuccessful in getting her out.

 “They just don’t understand how it’s happening,” she said. “There also were times this past season where after the game, a (opposing) coach would come up and say good job today.”

Vasquez said she ended that season understanding one must enjoy the moments one has on the field.

“Just play as hard as you can on the field, any second that you get,” she said. “A few girls got injured this past season, and two of them were seniors, and seeing how much that affected them — and it affected the whole team. 

“You have to play every game like it’s your last,” Vasquez said. “I’ve always kind of felt that.” 

Heading into next season, Vasquez said she finds herself excited for what’s in store for the Jags. 

I’m just excited to see how the attitudes are going to be this year,” she said. “I know our returners and even a few of our new teammates coming in understand … we made a huge jump, and we want to be the next (team) to set a new record or being the first in something for the program.”

Peyton Vasquez, A&M-San Antonio’s softball senior second baseman/right fielder

About the Author

Raul Trey Lopez
Assistant Editor
Raul Trey Lopez is a communication junior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. He is a first-generation college student. In his spare time, he likes to write in his journals and listen to music. After graduation, he hopes to pursue a career in sports or music journalism while also maintaining his family flooring business.

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