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With seven players returning to this year’s Fort Lupton Lady BlueDevils softball team, Coach Albert Vasquez is cautiously optimistic about the team’s chances for a successful 2014 season.
“I could say that I think we might win 10 or more games in 2014. If we don’t, then I know that will be a huge letdown,” he said. “The team will know how successful our season was after our final game. I have decided to simplify the game in 2014. We are going to concentrate on the basics. Our players will know how to hit, catch, throw the ball and run the bases. If we are able to keep our on field mistakes to a minimum I know the positive attitude of the players will keep us in the game.”
Vasquez called his 2013 season a rebuilding year. With the loss of 7 starters the team still managed to post a 9-11 season with an appearance in the district tournament. Vasquez quoted American basketball great Bill Walton, “If you fail to prepare then you prepare to fail. He insisted, “This year as a team we will be prepared to win.”
“The best gift a coach can give his players is teaching them how to compete, on the field and in life,” he said. “I want my girls to do their best, and that is all I can ask of them. If they leave the field knowing they gave all that they could, win or lose, then I see that as a victory. They will carry that lesson over into their adult lives.”
Vasquez is a Fort Lupton High School alum. Raised in a family where baseball was king he was a standout college baseball player for Greenville College in Greenville, Ill. After graduating, Vasquez returned to his hometown and began raising a family. Fifteen years after leaving the baseball diamond he returned to organized baseball as an assistant BlueDevils co-coach. After several years as an assistant and also head coach he was asked to coach the school’s softball team. He jumped at the chance and admits it was one of his best decisions.
Vasquez is looking to his core returning players to help elevate the level of play of the younger players.
“The team will have to rebuild our pitching staff. It will be up to our pitchers to step up their play and help the team win,” Vasquez stated.
To ensure he has the time to devote to the team’s successful season, Vasquez will be taking a hiatus from his full-time job as an electrician to coach the team until the end of their season.
Vasquez calls his team a group of overachievers. As players, he is certain the ladies will step up and play the game as he knows they can. In addition to a core group of athletes he feels he has incredible coaches he can rely on. Both Coach Ricky Tijernia and Coach Lenny Bachia are fellow Bluedevil graduates.
“They have shown their commitment to making our program a success. I am blessed with great assistants,” Vasquez said.
Leadership on the field is an essential part of a successful program. This year, in addition to the returning players from the 2013 season, Vasquez has a secret weapon -- his daughter, Morgan. As a sophomore, she received all-conference and all-state honors. This summer, she was selected as an All-American at the Top Gun Invitational Tournament, when she was named as one of the top 25 players among more than 600 ladies competing. That selection was made by a number of college coaches attending the event.
“Morgan is my daughter, and I try my best not to show her any favoritism. In fact I think the case can be made that I am harder on her than anyone else,” the coach said. “This year, as a junior, she will be one of the players the team will have to turn to on the field. I am confident that she will step up to the challenge and hopefully motivate her fellow players.”
Fort Lupton opens the season at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, at Mead High School against the Mavericks.