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Caratachea, Indians shut out Manteca in season opener
Manteca-Ripon softball
Ripon’s Addi Naranjo scores on her inside-the-park home run past Manteca’s Lauren Moncada. - photo by Wayne Thallander

Ripon rode the hot hand of Mims Caratachea on Friday and backed her up with five fourth-inning runs to open the 2024 softball season with a 5-0 non-league win over visiting Manteca.

“We have a lot of returners this year,” Indians coach Tanner Jordan said. “A couple of our new ones coming up did a good job of accepting their roles.

“We were looking to have a great first game, win or lose. We had our best effort, and we got the job done. It was a great start.”

Manteca-Ripon softball
Ripon’s Mims Caratachea struck out 13 and allowed one hit.
Caratachea went the distance in the chalked circle for the Indians (1-0), giving up just one hit while striking out 13 with only two runners for the Buffaloes (0-1) getting as far as second base. Caratachea was about to retire her last eight batters when with two out in the Manteca seventh pinch hitter Chloe Martin reached on a misplayed strike three. Caratachea promptly struck out the next batter to end the game.

“This was my first full seven-inning game,” Caratachea said. “Getting into the rhythm was a little difficult. I tend to get stronger, throw harder and be more consistent as the day goes on because I get used to their batters or I have seen them multiple times.”

After striking out in her first at-bat, Addi Naranjo led off the Ripon fifth with an inside-the-park home run off the top of the left-center field fence.

“My first at-bat, I did not do that well,” Naranjo said. “I really wanted to make sure I did something in my second at-bat so I could help the team out and start to get a couple of runs on the board.

“I thought she was going to catch it. I was so scared I didn’t see where it was going when I was running to first.”

With one out in the fifth Izzy Spurzem blooped a single to left for the Indians. Abby Stewart was then hit by a pitch and Ava Brocchini reached when her sacrifice attempt was misplayed, allowing Spurzem to score from second.

Caratachea singled in Stewart with Brocchini and Clara Townsend – running for Caratachea – scoring on an error of the bat of Bella Racacho to make the score 5-0.

“That one inning kind of got away from us,” Manteca coach Josh Farris said. “We didn’t play good defense behind Nelly (Torres). She pitched well but you can’t boot the ball around against a good team like this.

“We definitely gave them some extra outs and they took advantage of it.”

Torres went five innings for the Buffaloes, allowing just two hits with two earned runs and nine strikeouts, including fanning the side in order in the first inning. Isabel Tonna relieved Torres in the sixth, inducing three infield grounders for a 1-2-3 inning. Jayana Dias had the lone Manteca hit with a lead-off double in the third inning.

Manteca hosts Bear Creek on Monday afternoon at 3:30, and Ripon travels to Lodi on Wednesday to face Tokay at 5 p.m.