RIPON — Making just her third varsity start in the pitcher’s circle, freshman Sydney Thomason came through for Ripon on Tuesday as it fights to remain in the hunt for a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth.
She took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and had more than enough run support in a 9-0 victory over Hughson. The two teams are now tied for second place and trail Trans-Valley League-leading Escalon by three games. Hilmar and Mountain House are also in the mix for the four postseason spots.
The Indians (5-3, 12-5) avenged a 12-3 loss to Hughson (5-3, 7-9), and Thomason was a difference maker.
“This was by far her best game of the season and it couldn’t have happened at a better time,” Ripon coach Robert Vernon said.
The Huskies threatened early but left two runners stranded in each of the first two innings. Thomason retired 10 straight batters at one point before giving up a leadoff single to Jo Dowdy in the sixth. Kali Gose singled up the middle in the seventh for Hughson’s other hit.
Thomason finished with five strikeouts and four walks (two intentional) in the two-hit shutout. She had a boost of confidence early on when the offense spotted her a 6-0 lead after two innings.
“It gives me a backbone,” Thomason said. “If I make a mistake it’s fine because I know we can score more runs. I knew I had the support behind me, so I just had to make my pitches.”
In the bottom of the first, Lilly Mejia (2 for 4, three RBIs) followed Shay Furtado’s double with a two-run triple to right. Bianca Toledo added a RBI triple of her own during Ripon’s four-run rally in the second, when Hughson committed three of its four errors.
“I noticed she was pitching me outside so I just stepped to the ball and it hit it to right,” Mejia said of her big blow in the first. “I was just looking to get the two runs in to help the team. It wasn’t a one-person job. My hit kind of helped start it off, but props to my teammates who also hit.”
Furtado finished 2 for 4 with two runs, and Makenna Daley scored three times. Sydney Vernon drove in Ripon’s final run with a deep single to left-center field in the fourth, but Hughson reliever Jaden Brazil was able to cool the Indians’ hot bats for the rest of the game. All eight of their hits came in the first four innings.
Ripon has opportunities to avenge its other TVL losses in its next two contests, first with Escalon next Monday. Furtado, a San Jose State signee who is one of just three seniors on the team, said the Indians are primed for a strong finish to the regular season.
“It’s taken a little bit of time to see how we can work as a team, I think the last couple of games it has started to click,” she said. “We did pretty well hitting against a good pitcher (in the last Escalon game, a 7-3 loss), we just need to minimize errors and not give them any extra at-bats.”