STOCKTON — There will be no third Sac-Joaquin Section championship in a row for Ripon Christian softball this season.
Winners of the last two blue banners in Division VII, the Knights faced Woodland Christian in the SJS Division VI championship game Tuesday and lost 5-3 in the rematch of their winners-bracket semifinal.
A catastrophic error helped put the top-seeded Cardinals (24-3) — who previously defeated RC 4-3 last Friday — over the top.
Leading 2-1 in the bottom of the third and with the bases loaded, the Cardinals laid a bunt down that was misplayed. By the time the dust settled three runs had crossed the plate and Ripon Christian (23-5) was unable to recover.
The Knights continued to battle, keeping Woodland Christian off the board the rest of the way and scoring two runs off of Nicole Chapman’s double in the seventh inning.
“The girls left it all out on the field,” Ripon Christian coach Lenny Rizzuto said. “They played really hard — 110 percent. The other team was just better than us tonight.
“Our season was great. We won our league and the girls played really, really hard for us.”
Maddie DeGraaf continued to be a two-way standout for the Knights, going 4 for 4 and allowing just two earned runs. Her battery mate Elizabeth Thomas added an RBI.
DeGraaf, Chapman, Thomas and the rest of the squad will return next year and Rizzuto is looking for great things from this team again.
“They are just a great group of kids,” Rizzuto said. “There is not one senior on the team. We will be back in this game next year.
“I would like to thank our coaching staff of Crystal Rizzuto, Brandy Thomas and Steve DeGraaf. They were awesome with the girls.”
Knights overcome gusts, Argonaut in semifinal
Ripon Christian staved off elimination Tuesday with a 4-1 win over Argonaut, leading to its final-round rematch with Woodland Christian in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI Championships at Arnaiz Softball Complex.
It took a big sixth inning in which the Knights were playing for a run with the scored tied, 1-1.
"It all worked out," said RC coach Lenny Rizzuto some three runs later.
No. 5-seed Argonaut (13-10) of the Mother Lode League took the first lead in the first inning. Riley Hannah, who was hit by a pitch, advanced on Haley Konvalin's wind-swept single, scoring on a single by Kasey White.
The Knights tied it in the fourth on Morgan Van Elderen's RBI single.
With Nicole Chapman and Elizabeth Thomas getting on base via walk and single, respectively, Van Elderen, who was unsuccessful twice in putting down the sacrifice bunt, swung away and delivered in the run.
RC erupted for three in the sixth, taking advantage of an error and Ariel Van Woude's two-run single.
Chapman walked to lead off the frame and Thomas followed with a single. Van Elderen then put down the bunt, which was mishandled as the ball sailed past first base.
"She made the correction (on dropping down the bunt)," Rizzuto said.
Vande Woude helped make it a 4-1 game with her hit.
Winds wreaked havoc for both teams during the game.
"We tried to keep everything on the ground," said Rizzuto, whose team collected eight hits.
Vande Woude and Thomas had two hits each.
Pitcher Madison De Graaf scattered six hits, striking out eight while earning the win.
— Vince Rembulat