Mariah Navarro baffled Stagg’s hitters with her off-speed pitches.
Then Selena Gonzales blew them away with her fastball.
And the rest of Manteca High’s softball team provided its promising one-two pitching punch more than enough run support in a 10-6 season-opening victory over the visiting Delta Queens of Stockton Monday.
Navarro and Gonzales combined to retire Stagg’s final 13 batters to finish out the contest, which was called after the top of the sixth because of darkness.
Gonzales was lights out in her two innings of relief, the first of the freshman’s varsity career. She worked a no-ball, two-strike count on Stagg clean-up hitter Alyssa Ramirez and got her to pop out to center field. Gonzales went on to record the save with five straight strikeouts.
She also smashed an RBI triple in the second inning, and Navarro was 2 for 4 with two runs.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen her throw against anybody and she’s impressive,” Manteca coach Todd Hardcastle said of Gonzales. “I know she’ll still face better teams so we’ll see, but with that combination of Mariah and Selena it will be a big positive for us.
“They give us something that we haven’t had in the past.”
Navarro was rock solid in her four-inning start. Five of the six runs scored on her in the second inning were unearned, and she finished with six strikeouts to two walks and six hits.
Stagg manufactured all of its hits in the first two innings, but half of its runs came on a two-out, bases-loaded error in the outfield. Ramirez and Alexandria Brawkley followed that up with back-to-back RBI singles for the rest of Stagg’s runs.
The Buffaloes took the lead for good, 8-6, with a five-run second inning.
“Stuff like that (errors) is going to happen, so as a pitcher you just have to buckle down and hopefully everyone else around you does too,” Hardcastle said. “Mariah was able to pitch her way out of it, but at the same time this if varsity, we have to make plays like that.”
Dallas Mould went 2 for 3 with four RBIs from the middle of the lineup. Cleanup hitter Chandler Rose went 2 for 4 with two runs and an RBI double. Sophomore Mia Ramirez plated a pair of runs from the top of the order.
“I know we got some runs in, but we should have hit better,” Hardcastle said. “With all this rain, we’ve had days when we’d spend 3-4 hours just hitting. Hopefully that pays off for us in the future.”