One swing of the bat and 19 strikeouts, all rom Allie Walljasper, were all Sierra needed to grab a 2-0 Valley Oak League win over the Manteca Buffaloes Thursday at Sierra High.
The Timberwolves (5-1, 8-2-1 overall) took a first inning 1-0 lead when Walljasper connected off Manteca starter Peyton Rose for a two-strike solo shot. Rose would not surrender another run for five innings, magnifying the impact of the one first inning mistake.
“I just wanted to get a hit,” Walljasper said of her towering first-inning home run. “None of the other teams have been pitching to me; they have been walking me a lot, so I just saw the inside pitch and said, ‘That’s mine.’”
The bomb pushed Walljasper into dominant mode in the circle, striking out the first six batters she faced. The Buffaloes (3-3, 8-6) were able to muster some opportunities against the Sierra standout, getting runners on in the third, fourth and sixth innings and advancing girls into scoring position in all three instances.
Walljasper clutched up with runners on first and second, ceasing each of Manteca’s scoring threats with back-to-back strikeouts in the third and sixth innings and three straight in the fourth.
“I was trying to get my season-high, but I didn’t make it to 20,” Walljasper said. “I just didn’t want anybody to score. I wanted it to be a 2-0 ball game for them.
“I tried my hardest to get them all out.”
As tough as the shutout loss is for the Buffaloes to accept, the reality is the club was one or two hits away from possibly winning the ball game.
“We just left too many runners stranded,” Manteca shortstop Selena Gonzalez said. “We should have scored, but our defense did a good job of holding it together and they didn’t get to stomp on us like they do other teams.
“There is just a little hump that we need to get over offensively.”
Gonzalez had two hits in the contest and got the first of two back-to-back hits to lead off the fourth inning with Celina Cooper. The pair teamed up again with consecutive knocks in the sixth, but once again fell victim to Walljasper’s dominance.
“I don’t see us as being one hit away from being in that game,” Manteca head coach Corey Navarro said. “We were one hit away from actually winning that game. We’ve been in that situation three or four times and we have good batters coming up. Walljasper did a fantastic job, which is what I expect from her.”
Sierra padded its one-run lead with a clutch two-out, RBI hit from Walljasper’s battery mate Lexus Barnes.
Sierra has not surrendered a run in three VOL contests and will look to continue its hot streak Tuesday when it plays host to the Sonora Wildcats.
“Right now we’re OK,” Sierra head coach Nick Olmo said. “I’m liking that the wins are still coming in. A one-run game is still a win, it doesn’t matter. It would be nice to have a blowout, everybody wants that, but if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen.
“The win is all we are looking for.”