By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
East Unions Owen is MVP, Pamplin Pitcher of the Year
East Unions Samantha Owen slides under the tag of Manteca third baseman Sierra Martinez in a Valley Oak League contest on April 18. Owen has been named MVP of the VOL, while Martinez earned a spot on the all-league second team. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Valley Oak League Selections

MVP — Samantha Owen, East Union, SS, Jr.

Pitcher of the Year — Delaney Pamplin, East Union, So.

Offensive POY — Kindra Hackbarth, Oakdale, CF, Jr.

Defensive POY — Maddi Hackbarth, Oakdale, C/SS, Jr.


First team — Cherish Burks, East Union, CF, Sr.; Alexis Erich, East Union, RF, So.; Alejandra Rascon, East Union, C, Jr.; Grace Green, Oakdale, P/3B, Fr.; Kendelle Messersmith, Sierra, SS, Jr.; Lindsey Walljasper, Sierra, P, Fr.; Haighley Kissee, Manteca, P, So.; Annissa Gonzalez, Manteca, CF, Sr.; Celina Cooper, Manteca, 3B, Sr.; Allison Corliss, Kimball, C, Sr.; Samantha Sarmiento, Kimball, P, Jr.; Mariel Bertossi, Lathrop, C/SS, Sr.


Second team — Taylor Ward, East Union, LF, Jr.; Mikayla Bongi, East Union, P, So.; Melanie Benge, Oakdale, P/1B, Sr.; Haley fuller, Oakdale, SS, Jr.; Tayler Moss, Sierra, C, Sr.; Devi Coglio, Sierra, OF, Jr.; Morgan Miramontes, Manteca, 1B, Jr.; Sierra Martinez, Manteca, 3B, So.; Crystal Santa Elena, Kimball, UTIL, Jr.; Alyssa Lewis, Kimball, UTIL, Sr.; Izzy Davis, Central Catholic, P, So.; Kyndall Smith, Central Catholic, C, Jr.; Desiree Mendola, Lathrop, C/SS, Sr.; Adelina Moreno, Lathrop, OF, So.; Elysia Hernandez, Weston Ranch, P, Jr.; Tranisha Encalade, Weston Ranch, LF, Jr.

Two East Union standouts were rewarded for their breakout efforts in the Valley Oak League.

Junior shortstop Samantha Owen was voted all-league MVP, while sophomore Delaney Pamplin is Pitcher of the Year after leading the Lancers to a second straight VOL championship. East Union (14-0 VOL, 30-3 overall) went on to capture the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship.

Oakdale sisters Kindra and Maddie Hackbarth were named Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively. 

Owen was one of two heavy hitters who put up monster numbers in the middle of the Lancers’ potent lineup along with all-VOL first-team selection Alexis Erich. 

Owen hit for a .643 batting average overall with gaudy .659 and 1.053 on-base and slugging percentages, and she struck out just four times in 126 plate appearances. Of her 27 extra-base hits, nine went for home runs. She also had team-highs in hits (72), and RBIs (61) and was second in runs scored (51). On top of all that, she provided outstanding defense from the shortstop position.

“Well-rounded player,” said East Union’s Brian Goulart, the VOL Coach of the Year. “She’s a five-tool player. She has a great glove, great arm,  a quick release and runs deceivingly well. She’s also the most relaxed hitter I’ve ever coached.

“Sam’s always been very, very good, but she had a breakout season. She may have had the best season I’ve seen from an East Union player. I don’t remember off  the top of my head saying ‘Wow’ as many times as I did with her.”

Erich, a sophomore, enjoyed a breakout year herself as a hitter (.644, 10 HRs, 59 RBIs), but she was expected to return as the team’s ace after handling most of the pitching duties last season. An early-season ailment to her throwing arm put her availability in the circle in jeopardy. 

Enter Pamplin, one of two pitchers brought up from the lower levels for East Union’s 2014 postseason run. She finished 15-1 with seven saves, a 1.17 ERA with 89 strikeouts in 120 innings.

“Honestly, I didn’t see that coming,” Goulart said. “I didn’t know she had that in her. We thought it would be Alexis with Delaney and (Mikayla) Bongi relieving. Delaney was unbelievable. She pitched through a sore back, a sore arm and fatigue but never complained. She went out there and battled. She’s a warrior.”

Also earning first-team honors from East Union are Oregon-bound Cherish Burks (.550, four HRs, 52 runs), a fourth-year starting center fielder, and CSU Northridge commit Alejandra Rascon (.441, five HRs, 21 RBIs), the Lancers’ third-year junior catcher. 

SJS Division IV champion Sierra (10-4, 19-5) has two players on the all-league first team in freshman pitcher Lindsey Walljasper (10-5, 1.92, 128 strikeouts) and junior shortstop Kendelle Messersmith (.576, 29 RBIs).

Manteca (8-6, 15-9), which made its first postseason appearance in at least 20 years, is represented on the first team by CSU East Bay-bound center fielder Annissa Gonzalez (.494, 17 extra-base hits, 30 RBIs), sophomore pitcher/leadoff hitter Haighley Kissee (.470, 19 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs; 15-8, 3.49, 134 strikeouts) and senior third baseman Celina Cooper (.273, three HRs), who was sidelined most of the season with an ACL injury.

Lathrop (2-12, 8-15) has one first-team member in catcher/shortstop Mariel Bertossi (.600, 29 runs).

Manteca-area second-team selections are: left fielder Taylor Ward and Bongi of East Union; catcher Tayler Moss and center fielder Devi Coglio of Sierra; first baseman Morgan Miramontes and third baseman Sierra Martinez of Manteca; catcher/shortstop Desiree Mendola and outfielder Adelina Moreno of Lathrop; and pitcher Elysia Hernandez and left fielder Tranisha Encalade of Weston Ranch.