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Future is now for Mantecas youth-laden softball clubs
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Manteca’s three high school softball teams share one common trait this year; they’re all young — very young.

Graduation turnover has hurt no team more than East Union, which, like rivals Manteca High and Sierra, will find out right away where it stands in the Valley Oak League today.

East Union’s run of dominating pitching ended when former star Erin Arevalo graduated in 2008, but the Lancers were competitive with Kourtni McCall and Jackie Ketner over the last two years.

But with the pitching tendem now gone, East Union (3-4-1) is relying on three four-year varsity standouts — catcher Brittany LaMar, third baseman Cassie Waggy and center fielder Jillian Goulart — to lead a team of four sophomores and two freshmen, one of them being part-time pitcher Kristin Borst.

The Lancers’ VOL season opens with Tracy’s newest school, Kimball High, which went 6-3 in non-league play without seniors.

Their intracity rivals have slowly closed the gap over the years, and this may be the year that they are surpassed by them.

Sierra (6-0-1) is off to its best start in school history and could be two-time reigning champion Oakdale’s stiffest challenge. The Timberwolves just so happen to meet Oakdale (6-2-1) and returning VOL Pitcher of the Year Brianna Parker on the road today.

They are anchored by dominating freshman hurler Allison Walljasper, who is also their leading power hitter. Sophomores Sommer Wilson, Iyana Hughes and Shakira Lewis contributed to Sierra’s run to the postseason last year as lower-level call-ups. Sierra has four other underclassmen on a varsity squad that has just three seniors, including standout shortstop Daylynn Penner.

Manteca (6-3) travels to Sonora (3-4) with its own group of young talent that hopes to break the team’s playoff drought. Freshman Peyton Rose allows for veteran senior Mia Ramirez and sophomore Selena Gonzalez to start in the infield.

The Buffaloes have five other sophomores whom first-year head coach Corey Navarro plans to build around, but he is hoping to kick start a run of successful seasons by earning one of three Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoff berths.

Weston Ranch (1-6) also has a new coach in Ben Fuertis. Lathrop (2-4) has one senior, Krystal Ruiz, with all others being juniors, but the Spartans already have more wins than they had in their inaugural 1-19 varsity season.