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Hawkins too much for Merced
Timberwolves starting pitcher Gabby Hawkins looked impressive in her season debut, striking out 24 hitters in two games Thursday.
RIVERBANK – The Sierra High varsity softball team came a few minutes short of opening the Ceres Tournament with a pair of wins, but the squad will take a 1-1 start after handling Merced High 3-0 in Thursday at Rainbow Fields.

The Timberwolves (1-1) did all they had to do against the Bears in the third inning, breaking the game open by pushing across three runs. Sierra took full advantage of Merced’s inability to throw strikes, needing just four hits to muster the three runs.

Defensively, Sierra rode the hot start of pitcher Gabby Hawkins. Hawkins was nearly unhittable for the Timberwolves, striking out 13 while surrendering just a pair of hits.

“She threw hard from the first pitch of the first game until the final pitch of the second game,” Sierra head coach Nick Olmo said. “She was solid out there. Gabby gets stronger as the progresses; she’s not the kind of pitcher that starts strong and finishes off weak.

“She truly gets stronger as the game goes on.”

Merced had no answer for Hawkins and Enochs needed some breaks to scratch across its lone-run in its battle with Hawkins. Enochs racked up six hits on Hawkins, yet scored the run off of errors. Hawkins stuck out 11 against Enochs, surrendering just the one unearned run.

The Timberwolves scored the tying run in the top-half of the seventh inning, but the time limits pushed the scorebook back to the last completed inning.

Liz Brown and Alysia Atkins were the only Timberwolves to collect hits in each contest, both clanging out a hit in each. Sierra totaled seven hits against Enochs and four against the Bears.

Sierra will continue tournament play Saturday, opening with an 8 a.m. game against Pitman, followed by a 9:30 a.m. contest with Waterford.

“For what we’ve had in terms of working at practice, with the weather, I think we did well,” Olmo said of his squad’s start. “This was our first actual contact and we did well. We made the plays we had to all day.

“We were a little sluggish, because everyone is basically new to varsity except my three seniors, so it will take a little bit of work, but we’ll get there.”

Lathrop 7, Pitman 3
Enochs 10, Lathrop 0
The Spartans opened the Ceres Tournament with a tough showing against Enochs High, but closed out their tournament with a solid win over the Pitman Pride.

Alicia Erlandson was dominant in the circle, giving up just four hits in six complete innings of work. Lathrop backed up her efforts with a run in the fourth, three in the fifth and three more in the sixth.

“I am very proud of my girls tonight,” Lathrop head coach Christina Jones said. “Our first game was very rough and we were simply overpowered.  In the second game, we gathered ourselves and put together three consistent innings of offense to plate our runners.”

Jocelyn Castro led the Spartans going 3-for-4 and scoring a pair of runs, while Mari Duenas went 2-for-4 and scored once.