Sierra’s bats started hot, its pitcher got into a groove later and the defense was solid throughout.
The Timberwolves did enough all-around to leave Manteca High with a 5-3 win on Tuesday, but it was their aggressiveness on the base paths that tilted the outcome in their favor.
“We got some bunts down here and there, just tried to get as many runs as we can,” Sierra coach Vic DeAnda said. “We were trying to be as aggressive as possible.”
Natalie Garcia was hit by a pitch to start the top of the sixth, and Legacy Barnes got a bunt down to advance the runner. The ball was dropped on a perfect throw to first as Barnes reached safely. Garcia, meanwhile, jolted to third and was allowed to plate the go-ahead run thanks to a throwing error on the same play. Barnes later scored the insurance run on Devi Coglio’s squeeze bunt.
“They capitalized on our mistakes — bottom line,” Manteca coach Corey Navarro said. “Mistakes on defense killed us and it’s stuff we practice over and over and over.”
Coglio ignited Sierra (4-1 Valley Oak League, 10-2 overall) at the outset of this battle between postseason hopefuls, crushing a line drive past the diving Melanie Ramos in left field for a leadoff triple. Three pitches later Kendelle Messersmith doubled and just like that the Timberwolves were ahead.
The 1-2 punch struck again in the third as Coglio started the inning with a double and was driven in by Messersmith’s groundball single to left that tied it at 2-2. Both finished 2 for 3.
Sierra also had good production from the bottom third of the lineup, where Garcia was 2 for 2 with two runs from the No. 7 spot. Barnes added a double and Kiara Baleva contributed an RBI infield single in the fourth.
Sierra totaled nine hits and left nine runners on. Manteca (3-2, 7-3) had its best chances to break it open early. After giving up the run in the top half of the first, sophomore pitcher Haighley Kissee, batting leadoff, tied it with a solo homer to straightaway center. The Buffaloes then took their first lead on Morgan Miramontes’ RBI double.
Manteca jumped ahead for the last time in the third when Miramontes plated Kissee with a fielder’s choice to make it 3-2, but Sierra pitcher Lindsey Walljasper was able to minimize the damage with two clutch strikeouts.
“That’s huge,” Navarro said. “That’s when you have to capitalize. You have to get more runs there. We took two strike-three calls and you just can’t do that. You’re not going to win games like that. You have to put the ball in play and we did that earlier in the game.”
Lindsey Walljasper was in control from there. The freshman retired 13 of the final 14 batters she faced and fired five strikeouts, but she couldn’t have done it without the defense.
Tawny Deerinck snapped Manteca out of its funk with an infield hit in the sixth, but Sierra middle infielders Barnes and Messersmith rolled a 4-6-3 double play to end the threat before it could begin. Madison Penner was also key, as she bailed teammates out with nice scoops at first base.
“(Walljasper) was struggling a little bit in the beginning,” DeAnda said. “She was sick last week and I think it took a lot out of her, so it took her a few innings today. Once she started finding it she settled down.
“The thing about us is we have a great defense behind her, and that’s our game is defense. As long as she keeps it down we’re going to have a chance.”
East Union 10,
Central Catholic 0
At Northgate Softball Complex, Mikayla Bongi settled for a five-inning no-hitter after a walk ended her bid for a perfect game. The sophomore also registered 10 strikeouts.
Alejandra Rascon blasted a two-run homer in the third inning. Michelle Castro, Taylor Ward and Sam Owen each belted two hits.
Manteca 16, Sierra 10
Danielle Burch and Ashley Pease both went 3 for 4 to lead the Buffaloes in this slugfest. Burch hammered a two-run homer, and Pease had a triple. Vanessa Lopez reached on all five of her plate appearances, walking three times and doling out a pair of hits including a double. J.J. Santos was 2 for 4 with a triple, and Asucena Mendiola hit 2 for 3 and winning pitcher Koryn Menasco also cracked a pair of hits.
Oakdale 15, Lathrop 1
Gabby Cantu highlighted Lathrop offensively with a triple. Kim Aranda and Samantha Sales played good defense.
East Union 17, Pitman 2
Ragan Fowzer fanned eight, Faith Stofferahn went 3 for 4 from the plate and Sierra Wilkerson drove in three runs as East Union improved to 7-4 overall on the season.