Sierra came up one win shy of returning to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV finals last year, and standout pitcher Lindsey Walljasper is doing all she can to get them there.
Walljasper fired 14 strikeouts in just five innings, slugged a three-run homer and the No. 6 Timberwolves rolled past No. 11 Dixon 7-3 in their postseason opener at home Tuesday.
“I’m just super pumped,” Walljasper said. “I want to win another section championship.”
The junior helped Sierra capture a third section title in five years as a freshman, and the Timberwolves have wins over the top-seeded teams in the Division IV tournament in the last two seasons. They’ll head to Galt on Thursday to face off with No. 3 Liberty Ranch (20-2-1).
“I keep telling the team it’s not one game at a time, it’s also one pitch, one base, one hit at a time,” Walljasper said. “If we can focus on that, hopefully we can get back to the championship game.”
Walljasper was dominant from the circle and the plate.
Kallie Sorensen, Dixon’s leadoff batter, popped up to foul-ball territory for the third out in the third inning. It was the only play Sierra’s defense had to make behind Walljasper until Gracie Ballance broke up her no-hit bid in the fifth inning. Natalie Brawner (2 for 3) singled to put two runners, but Walljasper rung up her final strikeout of the day to keep the T’wolves (12-9) ahead, 7-0.
“She’s a warrior,” Sierra coach Victor DeAnda said of Walljasper, who has battled through some minor injuries this season. “No matter what, she’s never going to complain about anything and give you 110 percent. She’s fine right now, we just wanted to give (relief pitcher) Savannah (Guzman) some innings.”
Sierra was able to get all 15 of its players — including some of its postseason call-ups from the sophomore team — at-bats and time on the field.
Dixon (14-9-1) took advantage, scoring all three of its runs in the top of the sixth. Amber Ortega (singled) and Sorensen (infield single) both scored on errors, and Madison Boykin knocked in Savannah Meyer with a sacrifice fly. The Rams totaled six hits.
Sierra did much of its damage early before putting it in cruise control. Walljasper rapped a sharp single to left, and courtesy runner Alyssa Arredondo plated the first run of the game after Samantha Lorge reached on an error.
The Timberwolves broke it open with a five-run second inning when Walljasper (2 for 3) delivered her big blow to right field.
“I saw the pitch the whole way” she said. “I just wanted to do what I could to help the team.”
Legacy Barnes, one of the team’s two seniors, contributed an RBI double in the onslaught. Summer Ludwig set it off with a leadoff single. Mia Guevara smacked an RBI single to center in the fourth inning, driving in Sierra’s final run of the game.
Dixon pitcher Megan Anderson kept the Timberwolves hitless the rest of the way, but DeAnda liked the production from his starting players.
“It was a good thing for us,” he said. “I was wondering if the bats were going to come through and we got enough runs that allowed us to play everybody. (Liberty Ranch) has had a few extra days to rest, and with us getting to see some live pitching today we’re hoping it gives us a little bit of an advantage.”