UHV's Villegas makes it look easy against Ashford
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With a simple flick of the wrist, Dawn Villegas baffled Ashford University batters all afternoon long.
"I was just really comfortable out there," she said. "When I'm comfortable, everything just comes easier."
She is the hard-thrower of UHV's top pitching duo, the yin to movement master Emily Bergstrom's yang. Villegas' simple motion to the plate is deceptive; while many softball pitchers are a flurry of motion and timing tricks, the junior simply steps forward with ease and throws - hard, and sometimes in.
The simplicity allows her to take full advantage, and allows her to have deceptive amounts of velocity.
"I was really using all of the pitches that I have, everything that (assistant coach Lindsey Ferguson) has been helping us with," said Villegas, who is in her second season with the Jaguars. "I was just executing every pitch for every batter."
She dominated the second game of a doubleheader with the Saints (7-5), scattering three hits over 6 1/3 innings in a 6-1 victory after closing out a 15-6 blowout that ended in the fifth inning via mercy rule. Emily Bergstrom also pitched four strong innings in the first game.
"All their pitches were working, and we were able to keep them off balance," said UHV coach Keri Lambeth. "I'm really proud of them."
The win was the fourth of the weekend for UHV, moving its record to 10-2 heading into next weekend's all-important Orange Beach Classic in Alabama.
Villegas transferred from Our Lady of the Lake University before last season. She played her freshman year there before deciding to transfer because of a coaching change.
She was immediately drawn to coach Keri Lambeth's determination to win, and ability to help her and her UHV teammates get the most out of their talents on the field.
"We had played them during the season, and I liked what I saw," Villegas said. "When I found out they were looking for a new pitcher, I jumped at the chance.
"I like that she's hard, and she's always pushing us and wanting us to do better. She wants to get out everything that we can."
Teams facing UHV worry about finding a way to stop its lineup, and that was definitely an issue for Ashford on Sunday. The Jaguars scored in all but one inning of the 10 they hit in on Sunday against the Saints.
But the Jaguars' pitching, buoyed by Villegas and Bergstrom's talent and ability to complement each other, is a hidden strength some teams don't always account for heading into games.
"It shows that, no matter who we play, we can beat them," Villegas said. "We are such a good hitting team, No. 1 through 9, it allows the pitchers to get a lot more comfortable."
Not that Lambeth is worried about her pitchers if things get dicey and the games are close.
"They are so tough on the mound, they can handle any situation," she said. "All of our pitchers can handle any situation."
Memorial grad Marley Moehrig had a strong day at the plate, going 2 for 3 at the plate in the first game and 2 for 4 in the second, batting in four runs total. The top of the Jaguars lineup was a menace for Ashford University all day long, with the combination of Porsha Ramos, Brittany Arredondo, Moehrig and Ashley Shannon combining to be 14 for 27 at the plate with 13 RBIs and two walks.• Both teams struggled in the field Sunday, and Saints' pitchers Rachel Hong, Nikki Woodard and Megan Freiling caught almost no breaks from the defense behind them. The teams combined for eight errors over five innings in the first game. Ashford's defense committed six more in the second game, while UHV settled down in the field.
• UHV will get a taste of what it can expect if it makes the NAIA postseason at next weekend's tournament, when it faces Belhaven, Lee, Martin Methodist and Spring Haven beginning Friday in Orange Beach, Ala.
UHV 15, Ashford 6 (5)
ASH 000 60 - 6 6 5
UHV 146 4x - 15 14 3
UHV: Emily Bergstrom, Dawn Villegas (5) and Kristina Droz; ASH: Megan Freiling and Alex Betto. W: Villegas, L: Freiling. HR: None, 3B: None; 2B: (UHV) Shannon; (ASH) Dobbs, Hall.
UHV 6, Ashford 1
ASH 000 000 1 - 1 3 6
UHV 121 101 x - 6 10 0
UHV: Villegas, Megan Carter, Villegas (7) and Kristina Droz; ASH: Rachel Hong, Nikki Woodard (6) and Shelby Hobelman. W: Villegas, L: Hong. HR: None; 3B: None; 2B: Arredondo.