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Sierra aims to end busy week with win, playoff berth
Sierra High freshman Sommer Wilson hustles around second base for a two-run triple in the third inning against visiting Weston Ranch Thursday. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
After an emotionally draining win Wednesday and a 12-1, five-inning romp of Weston Ranch Thursday, Sierra High pitching ace Gabby Hawkins is spent.

Hawkins and the Timberwolves will need to muster up all the energy they can for their big Valley Oak League finale against visiting Manteca today.

Hawkins threw 121 pitches in Wednesday’s 5-4 upset of East Union that kept Sierra alive in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoff hunt.

Thursday’s contest mercifully ended early after she threw 80 pitches, gave up five hits and a walk and struck out seven.

“(Thursday) was probably one of the most fun games I’ve had this season because of how intense it was,” Hawkins said. “But it’s been exhausting — I am so tired right now.”

Sierra (10-5, 16-9) can qualify for the postseason with a revenge victory over Manteca but needs help. Across town today at 6 p.m., East Union and Ceres will duke it out for the second of three playoff seeds allotted to the VOL.

If East Union wins, Ceres, which is looking to make its 25th straight playoff appearance, will be knocked out of the picture having lost to Sierra twice.
But Sierra must take care of business on its end to make the second game matter. On April 19, Manteca stunned Sierra with a 1-0 win despite a one-hit, 11-strikeout masterpiece from Hawkins.

“Manteca played us tough last time and I don’t expect anything less from them,” Sierra coach Nick Olmo said.  “That game will be as big for us as the East Union game in many ways.”

Outside of league champion Oakdale, Sierra may be the hottest team down the final stretch. Much of that has to do with three underclassmen called up from the sophomore team midway through the season, and the Timberwolves are 6-1 since.

Freshman Sommer Wilson was 3 for 3 with a walk, two triples and five RBIs to lead the rout. She already has three home runs, a team high.

Speedsters Shakira Lewis (1 for 2, two runs, RBI) and Iyana Hughes (2 for 4, two runs, two RBIs) also left their mark from the top of the order.

Their combined presence has made Sierra’s lineup deeper from top to bottom. From the No. 8 spot, senior Liz Brown plated three runs, drove in another and roped a double to spark Sierra’s three-run, second-inning rally in her 2-for-2 effort.

Sierra led 4-0 after two innings before breaking it open with five in the third.

“Having them in the front of the lineup sparks everything else after that,” Olmo said of the young guns. “They have high on-base percentages, and Sommer is slugging around 1.300. All three of them are batting in the .400s, so it’s been huge. It shook things up, and that’s what we needed.”

Weston Ranch had chances to score more runs. Sierra committed two errors in the first to put two runners on with one out, and the Cougars left two more on base in the fifth after Serena Hernandez and Raileen Romo reached with back-to-back singles.

Michelle Lord smacked a two-out double in the fourth and was driven in by Lashana Lyons for Weston Ranch’s lone run.

Weston Ranch wrapped up its season at 4-12 in league and 8-18 overall, finishing with the most overall wins in a single season in school history.