HANFORD — Facing a 2-1 count in the top of the third inning of the CIF Central Section Division II championship, senior Emily Juarez muscled a single to right field to make history.
With that hit, the Hanford center fielder broke the school’s all-time hits record and established a new mark: 123 hits.
But history was still ongoing, as her single rolled underneath the right fielder’s glove and all the way into the corner of the field. Juarez flew around the bases in roughly 11 seconds and slid head first into home plate to score right after teammate Ashlyn Vidana.
After the play, the Bullpups trailed 3-2 and went on to lose the championship 12-8, but what still stood was the record. And what a way to break it.
“At the beginning of this game, I wasn’t really thinking about it,” Juarez said after the game. “I was thinking we’re coming out here to win the game for the team. I’m just going to do my job and if I happen to break it then great, awesome. But really I didn’t come with the mentality that ‘I’m going to break this record today,’ I came with the mentality ‘I’m going to give my all today.’”
In giving it her all, she delivered. Juarez entered the game tied for the record with 122 hits and got just what she needed finishing 1-for-4 with a run and walk in the final game of her stellar Bullpups career.
In her final season, Juarez slashed .279/.456/.337 and led her team in plate appearances (115), runs (24) and walks (22). She was second in at-bats (86), tied for fifth in hits (24) and sixth in RBIs (13).
To get to the feat, she had 37 hits her freshman season, another 37 as a sophomore, 25 in her junior campaign and 24 as a senior. She deflected credit from herself on her big achievement and instead gave it to her teammates.
“I’ve just been lucky to be around a great bunch of girls,” Juarez said. “Great competition, they’ve always kept me on my toes, always pushing each other. I think really just that support behind me — I want to do good for them, so if I do good for them then I’m really going to get the job done and I’m going to make it work.”
Juarez was a model of consistency anytime she was on the field. For her career, she slashed .350/.464/.444 and a .908 OPS. She ended with a .959 fielding percentage and made only seven errors during her four-year career.
She finished with 28 extra-base hits, including 24 doubles, three triples and one home run. Juarez enjoyed her best statistical success during her sophomore season when she hit .451 and tied for a career high in hits in a single season with 37.
Juarez almost always made contact at the plate striking out 45 times in 438 plate appearances, or once every 9.73 at-bats. The center fielder was also a durable player and played in 112 out of a possible 115 games during her career, including all 30 games her senior season.
Juarez is going to continue her softball career at Cuesta College, but said she’ll miss “the love of the girls” the most about her high school playing days.
“We’re just a great big ol’ band of sisters,” Juarez said. “Coming to practice every day, whether it was a bad day at school or whatever, I just come out to the field, be around some of my greatest friends of all time, getting to play the game that I love and I’m really going to miss that. … I’ve known these girls since I was little and just the bond that we’ve created together there’s nothing like that. Coming to practice every day it was home. It really was home.”