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ARM & HAMMER

Rivals led respective teams in different ways

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ARM & HAMMER

Sierra junior pitcher Gabby Hawkins and East Union sophomore first baseman Cassie Waggy are the Manteca Bulletin's 2009 Softball Co-Players of the Year.

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


POSTED June 27, 2009 3:15 a.m.
East Union and Sierra’s softball rivalry took a back seat during the final week of the Valley Oak League season and the days following.

Oakdale’s protest of its 2-0 loss to East Union on April 21 broke up what would have been a four-way share of the conference title, which would have been the first in Sierra’s program history.

East Union and Sierra appealed, but to no avail. The Lancers used a player who Oakdale felt should have served a two-game suspension after being ejected during the previous contest.

Oakdale ended up with the outright title and got as far as the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoff finals, where it fell to three-time champ Bear River. Ceres was awarded the other postseason berth, earning the tiebreaker over Sierra after sweeping the Timberwolves. Ceres was eliminated in the first round.

“We have three schools in Manteca, and we tend not to get along during the season,” East Union sophomore first baseman Cassie Waggy said. “But we and Sierra stood united when all that happened. It was as if we were representing Manteca, so the rivalry kind of brought us together.”

The sour end to the season doesn’t take away what Waggy and Sierra junior pitcher Gabby Hawkins — the Bulletin’s 2009 Softball Co-Players of the Year — accomplished. The league’s coaches voted to honor them as the Offensive Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, and Hawkins is smitten to be recognized as such.

“There are really good pitchers and really good teams in league,” Hawkins said. “You just have to work hard and try to stay on top of your game with every hitter you face.”

One of those hitters in league was Waggy, who put up staggering offensive numbers while leading the Lancers to a 19-7 finish.
Waggy got the better of Hawkins in their first meeting on March 27, driving in both runs in a 2-0 victory with a double to deep left. But on April 29 Hawkins and her Timberwolves got their revenge, as she pitched a shutout in a 1-0 win that helped knock East Union out of playoff contention.

Though the team didn’t play up to its lofty annual expectations, Waggy far exceeded hers. She finished the season on a 22-game hitting streak to round out her impressive .500 batting average. Her 39 hits, nine doubles and four home runs were area highs, and she also drove in 27 runs.

She batted .398 as a first-year varsity freshman in 2008, but she aimed higher during the offseason by playing against top-notch competition.

“I went into the summer last year just looking to improve,” she said. “I played with and against older girls for an under-18 team, and a lot of those girls were getting ready for college ball. I put up some good numbers then, and so I figured that I could do as good in high school.”

Like Waggy, Hawkins proved herself to be a bona fide varsity player as an underclassman in 2008 after an injury to then-senior hurler Bree McGraw forced coach Nick Olmo to call her up from the sophomore squad.

Hawkins pitched masterfully in her first full varsity go-round, never once giving up more than two earned runs in a game. She finished with a tidy 0.65 ERA with 192 strikeouts to 22 walks in 172 innings pitched, while limiting opponents to a .153 batting average.

She was also productive at the plate, where she hit for a .324 average with 12 RBIs.
Her position is unquestionably the most important on a softball team, and it’s no surprise that with her in the circle Sierra enjoyed one of its all-time best seasons with an 18-6-2 overall record, and 11-3 in league.

“I’m really happy how our team did even though it didn’t end the way we had hoped,” Hawkins said. “We really started to come together toward the end of the season with our hitting and our defense. I thought we played really well, and we had some tough teams in league.”
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