Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Junior gives it all she has

Neither the scores nor the results have been pretty for winless Wesley Chapel.

But you won't see Sarah Van Buskirk throwing in the towel. A win is forthcoming, she predicted.

Until then, the junior first baseman and third-year starter plans to scoop up every throw in the dirt and drive opposing pitches into wide-open spaces.

"I just play my game," said Van Buskirk, Pasco County's fifth-leading hitter with a .467 average.

"It's kind of frustrating when you don't win, but we make it fun. We have to or we wouldn't have a team."

Going all-out all the time is the only way Van Buskirk knows how to play, according to Tom Reese, her coach for the Zephyrhills Blaze, a 16-and-under traveling softball team.

"I think she gives it all she's got every time she steps on the field," Reese said. "I've never seen her let up.

"You can always count on her."

Wesley Chapel coach Tom McHugh concurred, adding that Van Buskirk, along with his daughter Brenna (.381) and Amy Brenner (.350), can give fielders fits.

"When (Van Buskirk) comes up, outfielders move back and infielders shift," McHugh said.

Van Buskirk, who hit .358 last season for the Wildcats, was near .500 last week. She said she can top last year's average in part because "I'm seeing the ball a lot better. I guess it's just the more you play. I played ball all summer."

Reese estimated Van Buskirk played 60 to 70 games with the Blaze in the summer, adding that her swing has improved dramatically.

"She's got one of the most perfect, compact swings for fast-pitch softball," Reese said.

As Wesley Chapel's lone returning infielder, Van Buskirk also has become a leader in the field.

"That girl can scoop up a ball like I've never seen before," Reese said. "She can dig it. Nothing gets by her."

Van Buskirk is quick to point out the disparity between her travel team and the Wildcats, arguing that they should not be compared.

"Playing on the Blaze, everybody is there to do the job and they do it," Van Buskirk said. "Everybody (on the Wildcats) wants to win, we just don't have the experience."

True. Only one Wildcat can say she played in the Independent Softball Association World Series and ISA Nationals in the summer. Van Buskirk did and remains hopeful her winning experiences _ the Blaze finished as runners-up in both tournaments _ will one day help Wesley Chapel (0-14) win a game.

"It's hard not to (get down)," said Van Buskirk, who endured a two-win season as a Wesley Chapel freshman, followed by last year's six-win season. "It's hard to keep your head up. I just hope.

"I think we can beat a lot of teams, we just have to put our minds to it. We should have beat Hudson and Gulf (the Cobras and Bucs have a combined four wins). I don't know how we lost to them."