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SOFTBALL: Indians advance to D4 Final Four
Daley misses bunt sign but sparks Ripon with homer
RIPON — With no score in the bottom of the fourth inning Wednesday against Sonora, Ripon’s McKenna Daley led off with instructions to get a bunt down. Or not. Daley launched the first pitch she saw into a tree beyond the center-field fence, the first of three runs in the inning on the way to a 4-0 win that advances the top-seeded Indians to the semifinal round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs. “That was supposed to be a bunt,” Daley said. “Coach told me I was going to bunt when I came up to bat, but when I went up to bat he was just standing on the fence. “I thought it hit the fence in center but apparently it hit the tree beyond the fence.” Ripon coach Robert Vernon’s recollection of the events differ somewhat. “On the bomb she missed the bunt sign and she hit a dinger,” Vernon said. “I told her to bunt and that I was not even going to give her a sign. The only acceptable excuse is to hit a home run or she would be running at practice.” Sydney Thomason (home run, two RBI) went the distance for the Indians (21-2) in the circle, and short of two errors carried a perfect game into the sixth inning. “Syd came through for us,” Vernon said. “She was throwing well and she kept us in the game, that’s for sure. We have to do a better job executing.” Thomason struck out eight and allowed just two hits. She followed Daley’s bomb with one of her own to make the score 2-0. “I knew I had to pitch to my location because my defense had my back,” Thomason said. “This is a team sport and I know they will be making plays. “They got me out of some situations which motivated me to do well at the plate. After their pitcher shut me down the first time, I knew I couldn’t let that happen twice.” Alert base running led to the next two Ripon runs. Still in the fourth inning, Syd Vernon (2 for 3) singled and was replaced at first by Natalie Mejia. The junior varsity call-up stole second, took third when the throw down sailed into center field and came home on Mackenzie Hutchinson’s two-out single for a 3-0 lead. The Indians got their last run in the sixth. Lilly Mejia led off with a single, took second on an error, third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Thomason. It was not just pitching that kept the No. 9 Wildcats (9-8) off the board. Ripon had some stellar defensive plays as well. Avery Thomason chased down a long fly ball in right field, saving a run, and Rhylee Magazinovic made two stellar plays deep in the hole at shortstop. First baseman Syd Vernon made a big stretch on one of those plays to make the out. “I was kind of struggling at the plate,” Magazinovic said. “So, I tried to pick it up on the field. I wanted to make up with my defense what I wasn’t doing at the plate.” Magazinovic did bobble the first opportunity she had, but Coach Vernon knew how to help the freshman cope with that. “After that error, I gave her a lot of love, trying to keep her confidence up,” Coach Vernon said. “Because you never know what’s going through a kid’s mind after a mistake in a playoff game. “She handled it like a veteran. She knows it’s always about the next pitch and never about the last pitch, and she did a great job for us today making those big plays in the hole.” Weather permitting, the Indians face either No. 4 Marysville or fifth-seeded Liberty Ranch of Galt on Friday at 7:15 p.m. at Arnaiz Field in Stockton.
Division III Golden Valley 7, East Union 0 An infield error helped open the floodgates for the third-seeded Cougars (26-3) of Merced. No. 6 East Union (16-10) and pitcher Hayley Leonard were an out away from getting out of the bottom of the fifth inning unscathed with the score still at 0-0. Marissa Bertuccio reached on the miscue, a dropped pop fly, allowing Naiomi Moore (leadoff double) to score from second. Golden Valley broke it open with Maddy Stokes’ three-run triple later in the inning, then strung together three RBI singles in the sixth to roll into semifinal round. The Cougars face No. 2 Del Campo at Arnaiz Softball Complex on Saturday. “Hayley Leonard went the distance and pitched so well,” East Union coach Brian Goulart said. “She did a great job for us all year and deserved a better fate.” Bertuccio struck out seven in her three-hit shutout for the Cougars. East Union’s Danielle Ramos, Allie Parker and Chloe Agueda accounted for East Union’s lone hits. “We played well and made some nice plays,” Goulart said. “They have a really good pitcher — she’s tough. We were able to put the ball in play, we just couldn’t string hits together.”
Division VI Ripon Christian vs. Millennium, ppd The semifinal contest was postponed Wednesday due to rain. It will take place tonight at Arnaiz Softball Complex starting at 7:15. Ripon Christian (21-3) is the No. 2 seed and vying for a third straight section title after claiming the past two in Division VII. The third-seeded Falcons (14-6-1) from Tracy was the Division VI runner-up two of the past three years.