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COMING UP ACES

Walljasper earns fourth All-Area MVP honor

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COMING UP ACES

Allie Walljasper graduated from Sierra High as a four-time Valley Oak League and Manteca Bulletin All-Area Softball MVP.

Photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin/Graphic illustration by CURT MURRAY/The Bulletin


POSTED June 27, 2014 12:27 a.m.

Allie Walljasper lifted Sierra’s softball team to unprecedented heights the past four years with her powerful right arm.

Yet, in her final appearance as a Timberwolf, the outstanding ace could hardly lift that arm. Sierra lost to city rival East Union 11-1 in the consolation semifinal of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs and did so without its star in the circle.

“It was very hard,” Walljasper said of not being able to pitch in her last game because of an aching arm and blistering hand. “It was sad how it ended, but I’m really happy I got to at least go to sections all four years.”

Walljasper failed to lead Sierra to its fourth straight section final. It wasn’t the storybook ending she envisioned in the final chapter of her illustrious prep career, but don’t blame anyone for not shedding a tear. The Timberwolves finished no worse than third place in the SJS Division IV playoffs in the last four years, and in that same time they captured their first two Valley Oak League and section championships in 2011 and 2013.

That Sierra even qualified for the postseason this past spring was an accomplishment considering that many of the team’s standouts from 2013 had graduated. It is in large part due to Walljasper, who is just the second athlete of any sport to be a four-time Manteca Bulletin All-Area MVP. Another local softball great, East Union alumna Erin Arevalo, did it in 2005-08.

“She helped turn this program around,” said Nick Olmo, Sierra’s now-retired softball coach. “With the skills she has, she still worked just as hard if not harder than anybody out there. Allie was very driven. … She wanted to win championships and get that full-ride scholarship. That was her goal from Day 1 and nothing was going to stop her from attaining that.”

Walljasper is already at LSU taking summer courses. She started 21 out of Sierra’s 24 games in the pitcher’s circle, going 14-6 with a 1.04 ERA and 229 strikeouts in 134 innings in her senior campaign. For her career she is 63-13 with a 0.61 ERA and 895 strikeouts and holds most — if not all — of the program’s pitching records.

She wasn’t too shabby with the bat, either. This past season she hit .556 with six home runs and 21 RBIs — all career-highs. Walljasper even drew 27 walks for a gaudy .722 on-base percentage. Batting third or cleanup for most of the season, her coaches decided to make opposing teams pay for putting her on by placing her at the top of the lineup.

“That was something Troy (Walljasper, Allie’s dad and Olmo’s assistant) had always thrown out there,” Olmo said.” In the second half of league we figured to just try it and see what happens. It was an instant leadoff runner on base for us, and the very few teams that pitched to her she went long.”

Walljasper herself was all for it.

“I loved it,” she said. “I got to see more pitches and more at-bats.”

The shakeup in the batting order helped Sierra reach the postseason. With two league games remaining, the Timberwolves needed to win out to have a chance but had to do so against eventual co-champ East Union and always-dangerous Manteca.

Walljasper led off the East Union game with a walk, which extended a streak of seven free passes for super slugger. She led off again in the top of the third and creamed a 1-0 pitch that cleared the center-field fence with plenty of room to spare. Of her 18 career home runs, not went farther. That was also the lone run in the must-win affair. And it would be the first of two shutouts twirled against East Union’s potent lineup.

In many of Sierra’s close wins, Walljasper had as much to do with it offensively as she did pitching. She had the Timberwolves rolling into the playoffs, where they knocked off Sierra Valley Conference champion Cosumnes Oaks 3-0. Walljasper took a perfect game into the sixth inning. She then pitched eight innings in an 8-5 win over East Union, and just like that Sierra was a win away from advancing to another section final.

“Allie did all she could,” Olmo said at the end of Sierra’s playoff run. “I guess it just wasn’t meant to be for us this year.”

Walljasper clubbed her final career home run in the winner’s-bracket semifinal and gave Sierra a 1-0 lead against Oakdale, which claimed the other half of the VOL title and eventually the section banner. The Mustangs took advantage of Walljasper’s tiring arm and came back to win 5-4.

“The seniors got to show the freshmen what it was all about,” Walljasper said. “I wanted to go out with another section championship, but having already won a couple I especially wanted for our younger players to experience that, too.”

Walljasper carried a heavy load for a team lacking the travel-ball stars of years past. Missing from this year’s squad were fleet-footed centerfielder Iyana Hughes (Virginia) and hard-swinging second baseman Sommer Wilson (UC Riverside), 2013 grads who took their talents to the NCAA Division I ranks. More than ever did Walljasper prove just how valuable she is.

“It was hard not having them on the team, they were huge leaders for the team,” Walljasper said. “I had to step into their shoes and become more of a leader myself.”

And who wouldn’t follow the 6-foot-2 powerhouse after what she had already achieved? The VOL’s reigning four-time MVP was named a MaxPreps All-American and selected to the Cal-Hi Sports All-State team as a junior. Before her senior year, she made the MaxPreps Preseason All-American Softball Team — one of just 30 players nationwide on the list.

“It makes me feel good,” Walljasper said of the recognition. “The hard work paid off, and it was nice to be picked for MVP again.”

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