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Manteca beats rival EU for first time in 15 years
Peyton Rose thanks Manteca High teammates Mia Ramirez (17) and Mariah Navarro for the run support during the Buffaloes’ sixth-inning rally against East Union at Northgate Softball Complex Wednesday. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
The Navarro family waited eight years for this moment, but Manteca High’s softball program as a whole has waited even longer.

The Buffaloes snapped out of a 15-year drought by defeating longtime powerhouse and rival East Union 11-4 in a must-win Valley Oak League contest with playoff implications Tuesday at Northgate Softball Complex.

Former East Union coach Mike Morenzone (1987-2001) confirmed that the Lancers’ last lost to Manteca on May 9, 1996 by a 7-4 score.

“It’s great,” senior center fielder Mariah Navarro said. “I’ve been waiting so long to beat them. I especially liked how it wasn’t just one person; it was everyone doing it together.”

Navarro finished 3 for 5 with three runs. Fellow senior Dallas Mould drove in four runs and plated two in a 2-for-5 effort.

Also contributing: junior Mia Ramirez (2 for 5, 2 runs), sophomore Selena Gonzalez (3 for 5, 2 doubles, 3 runs) and freshman Peyton Rose (2 for 4, 2 RBIs).

Navarro is in her third varsity season. Her older sister, Marissa, a 2008 graduate now playing for Sacramento State, was oh-fer against East Union in her decorated four-year career.

And their father, Corey, is in his first year as the varsity squad’s head coach. He had been the sophomore coach since 2003.

It was a complete turnaround from Friday’s effort, as East Union rolled to a 14-3 win in a makeup contest at Manteca.

“Our girls came out and played the way they can,” coach Navarro said. “Now the monkey is off our backs. It was fantastic to see the girls come through the way they did under the circumstances and beat a team that’s been great for so long.

“It means a lot to the seniors and the juniors who have been playing for a while. They were just devastated last time with how we folded up tent the last time we played them.”

In Friday’s contest, a mistake in the outfield allowed East Union (4-4, 7-8-1 overall) to score two runs in the first inning, and Manteca quickly unraveled after that.

On Tuesday, the Buffaloes (6-4, 12-7) didn’t waver after East Union’s Brittany LaMar slammed a two-run homer in the first inning to negate Manteca’s two-score rally in the top half.

“They came back as I would expect them to,” Corey Navarro said. “LaMar just crushed it and they were right back in it.

“But the difference between this week and last week is that this time we didn’t fall off. We believed and knew that we could do it, we just had to play our game.”

Rose anchored the Buffaloes’ resilient play from the pitcher’s circle. She put three straight perfect innings in the books after serving up LaMar’s tying shot.

Jillian Goulart (2 for 4, 2 runs, RBI) and Jordan Vinson (2 for 4, 2B, RBI) broke up Rose’s hot streak with back-to-back knocks in the fifth.

Rose ended up with four strikeouts to no walks while scattering six hits and an unearned run in the seventh.

“I liked the intensity of the game,” Rose said. “I just wanted to beat them really bad and shut them down when we got to the seventh inning.”

The freshman got plenty of help from the offense, which EU’s Kelsey Emerson handcuffed last week. But she yielded four straight hits to start the third inning when the Buffaloes erupted for five runs and never looked back in Tuesday’s contest.

Goulart, a fourth-year starting center fielder, relieved Emerson in the fourth, and Manteca was able to tack on four more in the sixth

“They did to us today what we did to them on Friday,” East Union coach Brian Goulart said. “It was almost the same score and the same kind of game. They played well and we didn’t play well, it’s as simple as that.

“I give all the credit to Manteca, they outplayed us and we didn’t play up to our capabilities.”