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Hughes comes through again; Sierra advances to semifinals
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STOCKTON — Iyana Hughes delivered once again for Sierra High.

In the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV softball playoffs Thursday at Arnaiz Stadium, the sophomore outfielder led off the sixth inning locked in a scoreless battle against Los Banos with a triple.

Hughes, who delivered on the go-ahead run against Central Catholic on the previous day, scored on a passed ball. The Timberwolves (24-1-1), behind freshman hurler Allison Walljasper coupled with some defensive support, held on for the 1-0 victory.

Walljasper, who scattered three hits while striking out 11, was locked in a pitching duel with Tigers’ Kelsie Monroe.

“(Walljasper) could be the best pitcher we’ve faced all year,” said Los Banos coach Charlie Pikas. “But Kelsie did a good job of matching her.”

Monroe, who is a senior, kept Sierra hitters off-balanced through most of the game with her assortment of pitchers. She struck out 12 while allowing just four hits.

“She also did a good job of mixing her pitches,” said Hughes, who was protecting the plate with an 0-2 count.”I think it was her riser I hit (for the triple).”

Her extra base hit was ripped into the center-field alley, taking a hop at the warning track before eventually being flagged down. By then, Hughes was safely at third.

Daylynn Penner, who played solid defense at shortstop, was at the plate on the crucial passed ball. She then worked the count for a walk. Walljasper followed with an infield single. Sierra, with no outs, had a chance to add to its lead but the Tigers got out of the jam without further damage.

“We knew Los Banos would be tough game (for us) and runs would be tough to come by,” Timberwolves coach Nick Olmo said.”We had to play our game and wait for the opportunity.”

The Tigers (19-10) played twice on this day, beating Vista del Lago, 3-1, in the earlier game. Monroe also pitched that game, fanning four.

Los Banos put together a threat in the fifth inning thanks to back-to-back singles by Monroe and Angela Rodriguez with one out, with both runners advancing on a wild pitch.

Walljasper reeled in a popup and came through with a big strikeout to dash the Tigers’ hope.

Sierra will face Consumnes, which beat Oakdale 3-2  in the other quarterfinal, at 5 tonight.