RIPON — This isn’t the same Hughson team that claimed the last five Sac-Joaquin Section Division V titles, but Ripon’s 10-0 mercy-shortened win over the Huskies on Monday was gratifying nonetheless.
Mikaela Ferreira ended the contest with a three-run homer to center in the bottom of the fifth, and Felicia Ceja earlier smacked a two-run jack as the Indians knocked Megan Shuayto around for 13 hits. All 10 Ripon batters that had an at-bat contributed a knock.
Hughson (4-3, 11-6 overall) won four of the last five Trans-Valley League titles with Ripon (6-0, 14-3) garnering the 2014 crown. Hughson will get another shot at Indians in the regular-season finale on May 11, but Ripon must first face second-place Escalon on Wednesday.
“Lots of respect for them and their coaching staff, so this was a good win for us, for sure,” Ripon coach Robert Vernon said. “We can’t take anybody for granted and rest our laurels on any one particular win, but our goals are set on competing for a section title and not just winning one particular game. Our history with Hughson has been kind of bleak, so to make a statement like that was nice to see.”
Ferreira’s finishing blow came on the first pitch of the at-bat. The same approach did not bode well for the junior slugger in her first two plate appearances, which resulted in pop flies to right field and second base. On her third trip to the plate, Vernon instructed her to take the first pitch — a low ball — before swinging. She took the next offering to right for a single.
“He told me to take the first pitch, but I was like if it’s a perfect pitch (to hit) I’m going to be mad,” Ferreira joked. “I got a hit to right field so he gave me the green light. First pitch was right there and that was it.”
Ceja’s homer gave Ripon a commanding 3-0 lead in the third inning. Leadoff batter Hana Lee finished 2 for 4 with two runs, and Jennica Baldwin was 2 for 3 with an RBI double. Taylor Jaquez added a double and two runs, and Hoku Lee contributed two RBIs.
It was more than enough run support for Sacramento State-bound pitcher Danielle Sperry, who fired seven strikeouts and walked one in a four-hitter.
“We came out wanting to win and played our best,” Sperry said. “The offense was crazy today. Glad it was over in five innings. (Hughson is) not the same team they have been but they still have a few good hitters. I tried my best to keep them off balance.”
Two of Hughson’s hits were infield singles from Haylee Williams and Lauryn Avila. Huskies standout Megan Lutz had two good drives snared by Jaquez in right field.
“Going into the game I knew that if we could control Lutz and (Hannah) Alcorn they weren’t going to beat us,” Vernon said. “If we can give Danielle two or three runs we’re usually in good shape.”