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Sierra falls to rivals despite 11 strikeouts, 1-hitter from Hawkins

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Sierra High's Daylynn Penner slides into an out in the first inning as Manteca catcher Dallas Mould applies the tag following a good throw from center fielder Melissa Bond.


POSTED April 20, 2010 2:38 a.m.
Spotted a one-run lead early and backed by a rare defensive gem by her Manteca High teammates, Mariah Navarro had the most confidence she’s had in the pitcher’s circle all season going into the top of the seventh inning against visiting rival Sierra.

Not even a two-out double by Allison Smith rattled the junior.

“We already had two outs and I trusted my defense behind me,” Navarro said.

She didn’t need the defense to record the final out.

Navarro fanned Alysia Atkins for her only strikeout of the contest, and the Buffaloes upset Sierra 1-0 Monday to end the first half of Valley Oak League play.

Sophomore leadoff hitter Mia Ramirez reached on an error and scored on another in the first inning for the game’s lone run, and it was enough to nullify an outstanding pitching performance by Sierra ace Gabby Hawkins, who struck out 11 in a one-hitter.

The only knock she gave up to Chandler Rose in the fourth inning was the only ball Hawkins allowed to leave the infield all game.

“When we have a pitcher striking out 11 and allowing only one hit and we still can’t find a way to win, it’s frustrating,” said Sierra coach Nick Olmo, whose team took a 5-1 loss Friday to East Union. “It’s on them to figure out what we’re going to do here. We started out strong this season and have since tailed off.”

Manteca (5-3, 8-6 overall), on the other hand, hopes that Monday’s effort is a sign of things to come. Defense has been a glaring weakness of the Buffaloes, but on Monday they had no errors.

Melissa Bond set the tone in the first when she threw out Sierra’s Daylynn Penner (2 for 3) at the plate from center field.

“The defense did great, and that just boosted me up and made me want to do better,” Navarro said. “I knew they were there to back me up.”

Underclassmen Selena Gonzalez and Ramirez took over from there. Ramirez, a sophomore second baseman, was in on 11 outs, including a relay play starting with left fielder Rochelle Perez and ending with a tag from Rose in the sixth when Stephanie Maestretti was caught in no-man’s land after rounding first.

“Our freshman-sophomore middle infield was phenomenal,” Manteca coach Todd Harcastle said. “Mariah threw an awesome game. We know that she’s not going to overpower anybody, so we tell our defense to just be ready for the ball.

“We hadn’t been playing that kind of defense. Mariah’s been doing this; she hasn’t been doing anything differently than she did today. The difference was our defense. Mariah did her job, and we played defense behind her.”

Navarro, who scattered five hits and issued three walks, gave Sierra chances to score early. The Timberwolves (4-4, 10-8) had the leadoff batter reach in three of the first four innings, and four of the five runners left stranded were in scoring position.

“We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities,” Olmo said. “We were lackadaisical about our approach at the plate, just sticking bats out there and hoping to make contact and not putting anything behind it. We showed no effort whatsoever.”

The loss puts Sierra in a hole going into the second half of league. Only three teams out of the VOL qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs. East Union and Oakdale share the lead, with Ceres and Manteca now tied for third.

“This puts us in the mix of things,” Hardcastle said. “A loss would have made things (hard) for us for the rest of the year.”

East Union 17,
Weston Ranch 1
WESTON RANCH — East Union (7-1, 15-4) amassed 10 in the third inning alone and had 12 of 13 players contributed at least one run in the mercy-shortened contest.

Winning pitcher Jackie Ketner threw three innings, and Kourtni McCall tossed a scoreless fourth before the game ended prematurely.

Jillian Goulart and Jessica Lavoie were each 2 for 3, and Cherie DeJesus was 2 for 2. Standout slugger Cassie Waggy walked in all four of her plate appearances.
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