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Who will go away perfect?

Sierra, Ripon bring 7-0 records into showdown

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POSTED March 11, 2013 1:36 a.m.

One program has a Sac-Joaquin Section title in its back pocket and is chasing another.

The other has a group of young players assembled that says a section title is in its future.

On Wednesday, the two programs will meet in Manteca. And only one will remain perfect on the 2013 season.

Ripon High will pay a visit to the Sierra Timberwolves at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.  The two teams bring identical 7-0 records into the showdown on the heels of perfect runs through respective tournaments.

Sierra was unbeatable in its run through the Ceres Tournament, knocking off Enochs, Merced, Hughson and Central Catholic. Ripon went without hiccup in its run through the Linden Tournament stopping both Lincoln and Franklin of Stockton in one-run wins.

Ripon has seen its program propel under the guidance of head coach Robert Vernon, vying for a Trans Valley League postseason berth a year ago until the season’s final day. The Indians have never had an issue scratching runs on the board, keeping opponent’s runs to a minimum has been Ripon’s challenge.

Sierra has had no such difficulty.

The Timberwolves’ head coach Nick Olmo inherited arguably the section’s most intimidating pitchers in Allison Walljasper. The junior standout helped land Sierra a section title in her first season and narrowly missed out on back-to-back blue banners with a 3-1 loss to Valley Oak League mate Oakdale in the section championship game.

It is not Walljasper’s last chance at a section title, but she has opened her junior campaign like it is. She has already twirled a perfect game and boasts double-digit strikeout in each start thus far.

With University of Virginia-bound Iyana Hughes at the top of the order Sierra has been able to give Walljasper all the offensive support she has needed. Walljasper has also assisted in that department, stroking a homerun in Sierra’s tournament sweep.

The Indians have seemingly legitimate options when it comes to the circle, with proven standout Mackenzie Gauden perfect on the season as well as newcomer Danielle Sperry.

Sperry shined brightly for Ripon in the Linden Tournament, notching an important 2-1 win over Franklin High to keep the Indians perfect heading up to the Sierra meeting. Sperry held Franklin scoreless through six innings, before giving up one harmless in the final at bat.

Offensively, Ripon has five starters with at least 20 at-bats that are hitting .500. Each starter has hit safely in the Indians seven wins and seven starters have scored at least five times. Darian Vandermaaten leads the club in hits and runs, while junior Tia Chacon has driven in 17 runs in the season’s first two weeks.

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