STOCKTON — Ripon High Indians are back in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championships.
They’ll face the winner of Marysville-Linden in today’s title game at the Arnaiz Softball Stadium.
“Our goal all season was to return to the section finals,” said Ripon coach Robert Vernon.
His team did just that but it took extra innings Friday against Marysville.
In the 6-5 victory, Karla Calderon scored the game-winner in the bottom of the eighth inning when Hoku Lee’s sacrifice bunt try was botched for an error.
Calderon led off that extra frame with a single, advancing into scoring position on Hana Lee’s bloop hit.
“Karla is our No. 9 hitter but she’s very productive there with her speed,” Vernon said.
The Indians (21-3) didn’t get there offense untracked until the fifth. A big reason for that was the pitching of Marysville’s Cassidy Clavelle, who had a 3-0 lead.
Marysville scored runs in the first, third and fourth.
“We knew we had to wait it out,” said Vernon, who was confident in his ace Danielle Sperry.
Ripon finally broke through in the fifth, rallying for four runs to surge ahead.
Felicia Ceja had the big hit, delivering a two-run triple. She was plated by Shay Furtado’s RBI single.
Furtado came home on Taylor Jaquez’s run-scoring double.
Marysville struck back with a pair of runs in the following inning.
Down 5-4, Ripon kept hope alive in the seventh. After Furtado drew a one-out walk, Jaquez again delivered in a pressure situation, ripping a run-scoring double along the left field line.
Sperry and the Indian defense did their part in the top part of the eighth, keeping Marysville scoreless.
That set the stage for Calderon and the Lee sisters.
“We were very confident that we would come through,” said Calderon, who went 2 for 3 at the plate.
She stood at third when Hoku Lee got the green light to bunt, scoring the game-winner on the throwing error.
“This is the prize,” Vernon said on the return visit to section finals. “We didn’t celebrate when we won the Trans Valley League.
“This has been our goal all season.”
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org