RIPON – Danielle Sperry was pitching at an all-Trans Valley League level on Thursday afternoon.
The Ripon freshman tossed 11 strikeouts and sat down Escalon’s last four batters in order during a 6-2 victory for the Indians (15-6 overall, 5-2 TVL).
“(Sperry) was hitting her spots perfectly,” Ripon head coach Robert Vernon said. “We pitch by committee around here. We hang it up at the gate and whoever gets the ball we expect to win.”
Sperry knew what was expected.
“I think I pitched (well),” she said. “I was locating my pitches very good. I hit all my spots and was working the corners.”
Five of Sperry’s 11 strikeouts were looking. She only allowed five hits and walked one against the visiting Cougars (10-8 overall, 4-4 TVL), who fell a bit further behind in the TVL race as well as the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoff race.
Ripon is now tied with Orestimba Newman for second place in the standings. Hughson (7-0) is sitting atop the TVL and will host the Indians on Tuesday.
“It’s a real great feeling to know Ripon is in the (playoff) mix,” Vernon said. “We did a real good job keeping (Escalon’s) hitters off balance. This was a big win for us.”
Ripon, which outhit Escalon 9-5, held control of the game early. The Indians took the 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second when Nicole Kaiser got caught in a pickle between third and home. She made it safely across the dish for the score after sliding in.
“We just wanted to hold them to a few runs,” said Kaiser, who went 3 for 4 with a double and two RBIs. “We all hit the ball and played good defense.”
Ripon led 3-0 through five innings. In the top of the sixth, Escalon responded with a couple of runs to cut its deficit to one. Escalon’s Anastasia Rodriguez tallied a two-RBI double that scored Madysen Costa and Lexis Prim to make the game interesting.
Ripon answered back in the bottom half of the sixth by plating three more, however.
Ripon’s Kattya Calderon, Darian Vandermaaten and Melanie Wilkerson all crossed the plate to make up the game’s final score. Junior Taylor Vernon recorded an RBI in the sixth frame.
The Ripon junior first baseman also made clutch defensive plays to get Ripon out of three of the first five innings, including an unassisted double play in the top of the fourth.
Vandermaaten (2 for 3, one walk, two runs) also scored in the bottom of the third inning after doubling to lead off the frame. Ripon’s Tiana Chacon also crossed the plate on the same play as Vandermaaten after Kaiser registered both of her RBIs on a single that Escalon misplayed and overthrew some tosses on attempts at an out.
“This is the closest we’ve been to the playoffs since I’ve been here,” said the senior Kaiser, who is headed to Loyola Marymount to play ball at the next level. “It’s a big deal this year.”
Ripon freshman Cara Brown and sophomore Alexis Cordaway both went 2 for 4 with a double.
Escalon’s Marissa Dominguez tallied a game-high 12 strikeouts and gave up nine hits and four walks.