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Sierra, EU ‘thrown a bone’ at all-VOL meeting

Despite being swept by T’Wolves, Oakdale the lone dissenting vote

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Sierra, EU ‘thrown a bone’ at all-VOL meeting

EU's Kourtni McCall slides around Stephanie Maestretti during the Lancers' win over Sierra on March 27. Both EU and Sierra were awarded extra all-VOL selections after the league voted to declare a ...

Bulletin file photo/


POSTED May 31, 2009 1:41 a.m.
In an attempt to provide closure to a perplexing and emotional finish to the 2009 softball season, the Valley Oak League’s eight  athletic directors voted 7-1 in favor of declaring a virtual four-way tie atop the league standings at the all-VOL meeting earlier this month.

The vote did not rescind Oakdale’s championship, nor did it declare Ceres, East Union or Sierra co-champions, instead, it only served as a guide in allotting all-VOL player selections.

The Valley Oak League distributes all-VOL selections based on order of league finish, and by declaring a virtual deadlock atop the league standings, Oakdale, Ceres, East Union and Sierra were awarded an equal number of all-VOL first-team selections (two).

Each of the four schools also earned a major award, as Ceres’ Jode Johnson won MVP, Sierra’s Gabby Hawkins was named Pitcher of the Year, EU’s Cassie Waggy took home Offensive Player of the Year, and Oakdale’s Monique Galvan split Defensive Player of the Year honors with Manteca’s Trina Solario.

The controversy stemmed from an April 20th incident in which an East Union player was dismissed from a contest with Sonora for wearing jewelry on the playing field.

Oakdale, which lost to East Union, 2-0, on April 22, waited until the final Friday of the season to appeal the game to the VOL because the dismissed player had participated.

California Interscholastic Federation rules dictate that a player ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct must sit out the following game, but because the umpire dismissed the player for wearing jewelry, East Union went to the CIF’s head state representative seeking clarification on the ruling.

According to East Union head coach Brian Goulart, the CIF told the Lancers that the ejected player could participate against Oakdale because she was dismissed for wearing jewelry and not for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Because Oakdale waited until the last minute to request a Lancer forfeit, East Union’s subsequent appeal to the Valley Oak League was never ruled on because the postseason had already started before league officials could convene.

Sierra High, which swept Oakdale, finished the season at 11-3, but because Ceres also finished 11-3 and swept the T’Wolves, the Bulldogs moved on to the postseason while Sierra stayed home.

Based on East Union’s forfeiture, the Mustangs were crowned league champions at 12-2, despite finishing 11-3 on the field.

East Union also finished 11-3 on the field but based on the forfeiture was saddled with a 10-4 record and missed out on the postseason.

At the all-VOL meeting, Oakdale was the lone dissenting voice in the 7-1 vote.

“The vote didn’t feel right to me,” Sierra head coach Nick Olmo said. “It felt like it was a bone being thrown our way, like, ‘Here, take this.’ We voted in favor of it, but realistically, our vote was indifference.”

The controversy was an especially bitter pill for the Timberwolves to swallow because Sierra has never won a VOL championship and had finished tied atop the league standings based on the outcome of on-field play.

Save for Hawkins, every single Sierra positional starter was a senior in 2009.

“At the time everything happened, it was still fresh and it hurt,” Olmo said. “But with time we’ve healed. We got caught up in the fall-out and there was nothing we could do.

“We’re not happy with the way things finished, but we’ve got to look beyond that. The kids did everything they needed to do, and in our hearts we know how we played. The VOL thought differently.

“We’re going to be sportsmen about it, and we’re already looking forward to next season. We’re going to let our play do the talking for us.”

Goulart said that East Union felt vindicated by the 7-1 vote.

“We know in our hearts that we did nothing wrong,” he said. “Unofficially, we are co-champions. We had shirts printed up and the girls are wearing them with pride.”
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