STOCKTON — Yes, it was an exhibition featuring some of the best seniors from San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties and the Sierra Nevada foothills.
But the South team played the 21st Annual High School All-Star Softball Classic to win it.
“We took it serious, but it was still fun,” said Manteca High standout Mariah Navarro, who played a part in the South’s 2-0 victory at the University of the Pacific’s Bill Simoni Field Friday.
Both runs were scored via the suicide squeeze, and it was Navarro who drove in Kelli Keefe from third base in the bottom of the first inning. The South struck again in the fourth when St. Mary’s slugger Gina Buscalia led off with a triple and was later bunted home by Escalon’s Casey Schmidig.
Navarro later sparked a scoring threat in the seventh with a leadoff single to right. East Union’s Brittany LaMar followed with a sharp single to left, and Gina Albiani’s knock loaded the bases with no outs. The South failed to tack on insurance runs after that.
Others from the city of Manteca playing for the South were Manteca catcher Dallas Mould, Manteca outfielder Rochele Perez, East Union second baseman Salina Tiscareno and shortstop Daylynn Penner of Sierra’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV championship team.
“You actually end up liking girls you didn’t like before,” LaMar joked. “It was a lot of fun. We all just came together and agreed that we really wanted to beat the other team and we did.”
Andi Andersen of West was named the South’s Player of the Game and earned scholarship money for her efforts. She struck out six in four innings pitched. Lodi’s Betsy Colburn earned the same honor for the North squad.
First-year Manteca High head coach Corey Navarro guided the South to victory and was join by his assistants Glenn Brady and Dave Rose along with Sierra head coach Nick Olmo.
“A lot of these girls I’ve coached before, and it was phenomenal to do it one more time,” coach Navarro said. “They’re all fantastic players and good kids. Getting to be a part of this game was a great experience.”
Ripon High’s Robert Vernon coached alongside Jim Elliot Christian’s Mike Pontius and Rick Martel for the North.
Kendra Contente of Ripon got to pitch and struck out two in two scoreless innings. She was joined by fellow Ripon graduate Alissa Vickers, who batted third and started in right field.
For Contente, in was her last hurrah on the softball field, as she will work to continue her basketball career at Delta College next year.
“That was very nice to be able to play in this,” she said. “I’ve been playing softball since t-ball and never stopped playing since, so it’ll be weird not playing anymore.”