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Armed & Dangerous
Future is bright for Sierra with Walljasper as its ace
Sierra High freshman Allison Walljasper is the Manteca Bulletins 2011 Softball Player of the Year. Walljasper led Sierra to its first-ever Valley Oak League and Sac-Joaquin Section championships. - photo by HIME ROMERO


Offensive Player of the Year

• Sommer Wilson, Sierra sophomore: Proved that her half-season outburst as a freshman was not a fluke, hitting .505 with six doubles, four triples and an area-leading five homers.

Defensive Player of the Year
• Brittany LaMar, East Union senior: The Valley Oak League’s MVP in 2010 and Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 was also one of the area’s toughest outs, striking out just twice in 88 plate appearances. Four-year varsity catcher held a .450 average with 10 doubles, two homers and 24 RBIs in her final season.

Utility Player of the Year
• Mariah Navarro, Manteca senior: A stellar center fielder who also saw time in the pitcher’s circle and middle infield, Navarro produced her best numbers (.403, nine extra-base hits) offensive numbers as a senior. Also logged five scoreless innings with three strikeouts and a save in two pitching appearances.

• Peyton Rose, Manteca freshman: Promising hurler held a 3.01 ERA and 12-10 record while striking out 110 to 20 walks in 137 innings in her rookie campaign.

• Selena Gonzalez, Manteca sophomore: An ankle injury kept this talented infielder out for five games, but she still posted an impressive .491/.586/.754 line with eight extra-base hits and a team-high 24 RBIs.
• Daylynn Penner, Sierra senior: The lone starting senior for the SJS Division-IV champions led the club with a .515 average and 47 hits while playing rock-solid defense at shortstop.
• Cassie Waggy, East Union senior: Corner infielder will take her talents to Lehigh University after batting .458 with 34 runs, 24 batted in, eight doubles, three triples and two homers in her fourth varsity season.
• Taylor Vernon, Ripon freshman: Coach’s daughter played both positions on the right side of the infield and proved not to be intimidated by varsity pitching, hitting .414 with nine extra-base hits and a team-high 30 RBIs.

• Iyana Hughes, Sierra sophomore: A terror on the base paths, Hughes hit .337, six doubles, four triples and a homer while routinely coming up with key knocks in big games.
• Jillian Goulart, East Union senior: One of EU’s three talented four-year players, Goulart stole an area-high 23 bases and hit .460 from the leadoff spot.
• Alissa Vickers, Ripon senior: Four-year player provided experience on a team loaded with young talent Led the Indians with 27 runs scored and nine steals with a .412 average.


• Nicole Kaiser, Ripon sophomore: Led area players with 13 doubles to go with three triples, a home run and 28 RBIs. Batted .456 and was also Ripon’s ace pitcher (2.62 ERA, 4-4) when not at shortstop.
• Mia Ramirez, Manteca junior: Middle infielder played effectively at catcher when mid-season injuries struck the Buffaloes. Ramirez paced the team with 31 hits, 27 runs and four triples to go with a .413 batting average.

— Jonamar Jacinto

Championships are nothing new to Allison Walljasper, but they were to Sierra High’s softball team before the imposing 6-foot-1 freshman lifted the program to unprecedented heights.

And the Bulletin’s 2011 All-Area Softball MVP did some heavy lifting with soreness to her throwing arm and shoulder late in the season.

Already known for her pitching prowess, Walljasper showed impressive fortitude and poise in leading Sierra to its first-ever Valley Oak League and Sac-Joaquin Section postseason championships.

Past experiences against top-flight competition in the travel-ball circuit proved valuable. Last August, she helped the San Jose Sting earn the under-14 title in the Amateur Softball Association of America National Championships in Illinois.

“It was not really all that challenging (adjusting to varsity softball) because my travel team was very competitive,” Walljasper said. “After winning the national championship, I came into high school really confident.”

And it showed.

She began her Sierra career with two straight one-hit victories in the Bulldog Classic, and in her third outing she recorded her first no-hitter in high school in a 5-0 win over Turlock. The Timberwolves then tied tourney host Ceres 3-3 and claimed the championship.

Oh yeah, she can hit, too. Walljasper went 9 for 13 with six runs, three RBIs, four doubles and a homer.

For the year, Walljasper posted a .479 batting average while slugging three homers, 12 doubles and two triples. From the pitcher’s circle she factored in every decision, going 26-2-1 with a 0.40 earned run average and 252 strikeouts in 162 innings.

Walljasper and the Timberwolves earned statewide recognition after winning the NorCal Classic’s Platinum Division title in Tracy. The Platinum Division is the tournament’s toughest bracket featuring some of the more established powerhouses around.

ESPN RISE/Cah-Hi Sports tabbed Sierra the No. 1 team in California among medium-sized, Division-III schools.

“It was a big confidence booster winning the Tracy tournament,” Walljasper said. “We realized that we are a good team, and it made us believe that we can win VOL and go far in sections.”

But it was at that point that the sturdily-built standout began to show signs of wear. So over the final eight games of the season (three in the VOL, five in the playoffs), she shelved her powerful fastball and beat batters with finesse.

“I just tried my best to forget about my shoulder,” Walljasper said. “My teammates and my coaches still had confidence in me going into every game even though I did not have my best stuff. I was throwing different pitches to keep people off balanced.”

The Timberwolves went into the playoffs battle tested thanks in part to rival East Union, which took them to the brink in a 7-4 loss at the end of the regular season.

Sierra needed to win to secure the outright VOL crown with a 13-1 record, but errors leading to four unearned runs nearly spoiled it. Walljasper, who had already been voted MVP of the VOL, walloped a three-run double that was nearly a grand slam to put the T’Wolves up ahead for good in the sixth inning.

East Union provided them a much-needed wake-up call after rarely being tested all season.

Walljasper struck out 11 and scattered three hits in each of Sierra’s first two SJS Division-IV playoff games — a 2-1 win over Central Catholic decided in the bottom of the seventh, and a 1-0 victory against eventual championship-round opponent Los Banos.

And in the winner’s-bracket semifinal, Walljasper labored through eight innings with the sore arm but gutted Sierra past Cosumnes Oaks, 2-1.

The rematch with Los Banos came a day later. Needing to win twice, Los Banos used small-ball tactics to generate runs and take Game 1 by a 4-1 score.

“I wasn’t going to let my team down,” Walljasper said. “I was going into the last game thinking that I had to just give it my all. That was our chance to win a section championship, which our team never came close to doing before.”

Walljasper did not disappoint.

She finally unleashed her fastball and struck out nine in the 6-0 title-clinching win. Walljasper was also in on the backbreaking six-run third inning, as she drove in two with a single.

“It was an awesome feeling,” Walljasper said of winning a section title.

Sierra is poised to repeat with only one starter, shortstop Daylynn Penner, graduating from the 2011 team. Sophomores Sommer Wilson and Iyana Hughes are among the T’Wolves’ top players returning, and they are also Walljasper’s teammates for the San Jose Sting’s under-16 squad.

“We should be pretty good again for the next three years,” Walljasper said. “We’re looking forward to defending our VOL and section titles.”