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Sierra grinds one out at WR
Cougars compete with but done in by late mistakes
SOFT--Sierra-Weston Ranch 1
Sierra courtesy runner Kiara Balika steals second with the slide ahead of the outstretched glove of Weston Ranch shortstop Vanessa Contreras in the first inning of Fridays Valley Oak League contest held at Weston Ranch. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin

STOCKTON — Allie Walljasper struck out 14 in six innings, Julie Deanda and Maddie Penner each rapped two-run hits and Devi Coglio legged out a home run in Sierra’s 8-0 win at Weston Ranch on Friday.

The margin of victory is deceiving, as it was a 1-0 pitcher’s duel through four innings. While the LSU-bound Walljasper did her thing in the circle, Weston Ranch’s Arianna Hernandez was twirling a gem of her own until defensive miscues did the Cougars in.

Weston Ranch (1-3 Valley Oak League, 6-5 overall) even had chances to score before it got out of hand. Three Cougars reached with no outs in the fourth and fifth innings combined, and all of them were left stranded in scoring position. Walljasper escaped both threats with three consecutive strikeouts.

“This is a typical game between us and Weston Ranch,” Sierra coach Nick Olmo said. “You don’t expect them to stop playing ever, they’ll play until the last out. This has been the way this game has been ever since I’ve been (Sierra’s coach) and I didn’t expect anything different today.”

Weston Ranch committed three errors in all, and an outfielder misplayed Coglio’s deep drive that led to the solo homer in the sixth.

Hernandez fanned nine Sierra batters in six innings of work, but she began to tire late as her pitch count hit triple digits. She walked seven (two in the first four innings), hit one and scattered six hits. She was replaced at the start of the seventh after throwing 139 pitches.

“Ari pitched a great game for us today. In my opinion a lack of focus on defense cost us. We stress to our kids that they have to support their pitcher. You can’t have a pitcher working her butt off in the circle and then not support her on defense. That hurt us and her pitch count got high.”

Sierra (3-1, 7-2) plated the first one on a double steal, which was set up by an infield throwing error. It was a 1-0 ballgame until a dropped fly ball in the top of the fifth helped spark the Timberwolves’ three-run breakout. Deanda capped it with her two-RBI single to right field.

Penner, a freshman, drove in two more with a double in the sixth. She finished 2 for 2, walked once and was hit once. Gianna Lenoci (2 for 5, run) belted home Mariah Jurado (singled) with a triple for the final run but was gunned down at the plate by a well-executed relay from Weston Ranch.

Sierra nice moments on defense as well, including a pickoff throw at first from catcher Taylor Moss that resulted in a strikeout-throw out double play. There was, however, an infield error to start the bottom of the fourth that broke up Walljasper’s bid for a perfect game.

“We made the plays we had to make and were fairly clean, but we had the one high chopper that we misplayed and we got a little lackadaisical watching the base runners,” Olmo said. “Other than that, I’m happy with the performance all the way around.”