The top of the lineup is tops in more ways than one for Manteca.
The first four batters — freshman Kaylee MacDannald followed by seniors Haighley Kissee, Sierra Martinez and Tawny Deerinck – failed to reach base just twice in their first 16 at-bats as Manteca rolled to a 10-1 non-league softball win over visiting Tokay of Lodi on Wednesday.
“I keep saying it’s our seniors,” Buffaloes coach Josh Farris said. “Those are our seniors – the No. 2, 3 and 4 hitters. Kaylee (MacDannald) is doing a good job of being mentored and she is part of that group and we go as they go. Those three seniors are carrying us and hopefully they carry us a long way.”
The Tigers (4-1) scored first when their leadoff batter Simone Medeiros beat out a bunt, stole second and came into score on a pair of groundouts. After that, the game belonged to Manteca (5-2).
MacDannald did her job as a leadoff batter, reaching base on her first four trips to the plate, going 2 for 4 with three runs. She got the ball rolling when she led off the five-run Manteca third with a single followed with singles by Kissee and Martinez, an RBI off the bat of Deerinck on a hard-hit error at short and a two-RBI double by Kaileah Johannsen (2 for 4, double, two RBI), one of three starting freshmen.
“I was just going up there and hitting the pitch that I liked,” MacDannald said. “I was trying to do the best I could as a leadoff hitter.”
Hitting out of the No. 3 hole, Martinez reached base four times, going 3 for 4 with a double, three RBI and two runs.
“In the beginning of the year I kind of struggled,” Martinez said. “Now I have started focusing more on getting on base to help my teammates in front of me score and setting it up for the people after me.”
The Buffaloes added four more in the third when MacDannald, Kissee and Martinez all reached – MacDannald on a single, Kissee being hit by a pitch and Martinez with an RBI single – followed by Deerinck (2 for 4, double, three RBI) with an RBI double.
“Obviously, a lot of girls in front of me were getting on base,” Deerinck said. “So my job as a No. 4 hitter is to hit them in.
“I was just taking it one pitch at a time trying to make contact so I can do my job.”
Kissee (2 for 3, two runs) dominated in the circle, sprinkling four hits over seven innings while striking out six. Only two balls made it out of the infield against her.
“When I am pitching out there I go after every batter on every pitch,” Kissee said. “I’m confident and I know I can win every at-bat.”
According to Farris, it all starts with Kissee.
“She is a competitor,” Farris said. “We feed off her and I know she has pitched the last two days in a row and she told me she wanted to keep this thing going that she wants to get three in a row and that’s all we are asking.
“It starts with her and we all kind of feed off of her.”
Manteca 7, Tokay 6
Mikayla Lopez belted a two-RBI double in right-center gap the bottom of the seventh to give the Buffaloes a thrilling come-from-behind walk-off win.
After battling back from a 5-0 deficit to tie the game at 5-5 in the sixth, Manteca saw the Tigers take a 7-6 lead in the top of the seventh. In the bottom of the frame Kaila Nolasco got her second hit of the game and Makenna Condit walked. Both came in on Lopez’s game-winning hit.
Alyssah Harnden went the distance for the Buffaloes in the circle and struck out six.