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1-run losses end Ripon’s season

Escalon battles back from 4-run deficit in semifinal

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1-run losses end Ripon’s season

Ripon catcher Mackenzie Hutchinson tags out Mariposa’s Milea Appling with the outfield assist coming from Lilly Mejia.

GARY JENSEN/GreatShots.SmugMug.com/


POSTED May 24, 2017 1:30 a.m.

STOCKTON — Ripon was six outs away from reaching the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V finals for a second straight year.
It turns out the No. 2-seeded Indians won’t get a chance to defend their title today at Arnaiz Softball Complex. They were eliminated by a pair of one-run losses on Tuesday, starting with a 7-6 heartbreaker against Trans-Valley League rival Escalon that knocked them into the consolation semifinal. No. 9 batter Sage Davis came through with the walk-off hit for the Cougars.
Mariposa then avenged a quarterfinal defeat with a 1-0 win over Ripon in the nightcap.
“It’s tough,” Ripon coach Robert Vernon said. “I’d obviously would rather go straight to the championship (round) instead of playing in this game (consolation semifinal) because we’re not really built for two games in one day.”
Junior pitcher Lillian Dillard put forth a gutty effort in the circle and did all she could to keep the Indians (21-6) in the running.
In the matchup of 2016 section champions, No. 3 Mariposa (27-4), which claimed the Division VI title last year, plated the deciding run with a two-out rally in the top of the fifth. Sam Matlock reached on an infield single, Violet Matlock (2 for 4) tagged a double to left and Kiya Smith poked an RBI single to right-center field.
Dillard scattered eight hits but walked none and struck out five. Mariposa’s Leah Lafata fired 14 strikeouts in a four-hitter. The Grizzlies dropped a 5-2 decision to Ripon on Saturday.
“She’s tired, but she sucked it up,” Vernon said of Dillard. “We tried to get as many innings as we could out of her and she kept it close.”
Against top-seeded Escalon (22-4), which swept Ripon in TVL play, things unraveled for Dillard and the Indians after they nursed a 6-2 lead into the bottom of the fifth.
Ripon had all the momentum up until this point. The Cougars led 2-0 early on thanks to Molly Brown’s RBI double in the first and Mackenzie Duval’s run-scoring single in the second.
The Indians responded in the third. Sierra Silva drew a one-out walk, and freshman Lilly Mejia ignited the club with its first hit of the day off of Escalon ace Chardae Hoskins. Power-hitting shortstop Mikaela Ferreira later walked to load the bases, brining clean-up batter Shay Furtado to the plate.
Furtado did not waste any time, as she blasted Hoskins’ first pitch of the at-bat over the left-center wall.
“(The plate umpire) was calling them low and inside and I was thinking that she was going to go with that,” Furtado said. “If I see something in my zone I’m just going to try to hit the cover off of it.”
Ripon did not settle for the grand slam, adding a run in each of the next two innings. Mejia drove in Makenna Daley with a double, and Sydney Vernon’s single to deep left center plated Furtado.
Mejia finished 3 for 7 from the top of the order and also threw out a runner at the plate from the center field in each game.
“She did an excellent job for us all year,” Vernon said of Mejia. “(Pacific) was actually watching her from the stands tonight and she didn’t know that. I think there’s a very good possibility that she plays Division I softball.”
Arabella Strach (2 for 4) hit an RBI infield single in the fifth to get Escalon back on track.
Ripon fell apart in the sixth when it committed three of its five errors. Hoskins delivered a two-run hit, and the Cougars scored the tying run a batter later with help from a throwing error. Brown capped off her 4-for-4 effort with a single to left, and Ashley Duval — who earlier reached on an infield error — was able to scoot home following an errant relay throw.
Hannah Boyd set up Davis’ game-winning hit with a leadoff single in the seventh.
“They hit the ball and we didn’t make some plays,” coach Vernon said. “We finished third and here we are disappointed about a 21-6 season. All in all, I’m proud of the girls — they battled.”
Ferreira finished 2 for 6 in her final outing for the Indians. She’s a four-year starter and one-time league MVP who is heading to Saint Mary’s College. Notre Dame de Namur-bound Jennica Baldwin went 3 for 7.

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