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SOFTBALL: Caratachea's 3-run triple catapults Ripon to win at Manteca
Bulletin sports 2020-21
Ripon pitcher Sydney Thomason delivers a pitch against Manteca on Wednesday. - photo by Wayne Thallander

Freshman Mims Caratachea clobbered a bases-clearing triple in the fifth inning, giving Ripon the separation it needed for a 6-2 Valley Oak League win at Manteca on Wednesday.

It was part of a five-run outburst that broke a 1-1 stalemate. The host Buffaloes came up with two hits in the seventh to ruin a no-hit bid from University of Nebraska at Kearney-bound pitcher Sydney Thomason, who finished with five strikeouts and two walks. Thomason was also 2 for 4 with an RBI. 

“It was a close game, and Mims had the clutch hit for us,” Ripon coach Robert Vernon said. “This was a pretty good game for us, and Syd pitched well.”

Bulletin sports 2020-21
Kiana Briseno tracks down the flyball in the outfield for Manteca. - photo by Wayne Thallander
The Indians (1-1, 2-1 overall) bounced back from their 8-0 loss to rival Escalon — both Ripon and the Cougars are longtime Trans-Valley League rivals who are VOL members for the year. 

Ripon won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title in 2019 along with the Cal-Hi Sports Division IV State Team of the Year honors and was primed to repeat in 2020 before the season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. The Indians now start five freshmen but had contributions from both their youngsters and veterans.

In the third, sophomore Peyton Naranjo (2 for 4) belted a one-out double to center field and was driven home by Thomason's two-bagger on the next pitch, tying the score at 1-1. 

Freshman Jaycee Wilmshurst walked, and third-year junior starter Rhylee Magazinovic singled to begin Ripon's fifth-inning rally. Manteca pitcher Nayellys Torres was able to retire the next two batters on flyballs, but an infield error extended the inning for the Indians and set up Caratachea's game-changing bash. 

Kimberly Hern (2 for 3, HBP) then knocked Caratachea (2 for 4) in with a single, and another error allowed her to score.

Errors also hurt Manteca (1-3) in its 7-0 loss on Monday, when the Buffaloes trailed 1-0 heading into the sixth. 

“We made some plays, but we seem to get down on ourselves when errors are made and it kind of compounds,” Manteca coach Josh Farris said. “We have had that problem a couple times this season where one error kind of opens the floodgates. It's a much closer game, but that one error makes it big and it takes us out of the things we like to do, like play small ball.”

The defense came through in the fourth with the game still knotted, ending an infield double-play sequence with a tag at the plate. 

Bulletin sports 2020-21
Ripon base runner Kaylee Hutchinson is tagged out at the plate by Manteca catcher Jessica Almeida to end a scoring threat in the fourth inning. - photo by Wayne Thallander

Manteca took the lead in the first with Mohrgen Kissee reaching and scoring on a pair of two-out errors. In the seventh, Kalissa Martin ended the Buffs' hitting drought with a single down the third-base line. Torres then delivered with the RBI double.

“We'll get better, I guarantee you that,” Farris said. “The girls are young but they're working. Everybody seems young in this league. We start five underclassmen in the infield, and they're learning through fire because a lot of them play other sports and missing out on practice time.”