STOCKTON — There was more than the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV softball championship on the line Friday at Arnaiz Softball Complex in the third meeting of the season between No. 2 Calaveras of San Andreas and top-seeded Ripon.
If the Indians were to win, they would also be crowned the Cal-Hi Sports Division IV state champion. In their third meeting of the season with persistent Calaveras, they completed the sweep with a 7-3 victory.
“We 10-runned them Thursday,” Ripon coach Robert Vernon said. “It’s very difficult to beat a team two times, let alone three times. I am really proud of the girls.
“We heard on Thursday about the Cal-Hi thing and I didn’t want the girls to even talk about it today. This was just a great day.”
Calaveras (22-5) left eight runners stranded in scoring position, and got two of its runs thanks to back-to-back errors in the sixth inning. Indians pitcher Sydney Thomason was unfazed by the multiple Calaveras threats, forcing Calaveras to leave the bases loaded in the third inning and with runners on second and third in the third and sixth innings.
“She has ice water in her veins,” Vernon said of Thomason, a sophomore. “I don’t think you can pressure her right now, or she is too young to know what she just did.”
Thomason sprinkled eight hits over the seven innings, striking out four and walking one.
“I knew they were a really good hitting team so I needed to get outs,” Thomason said. “And the infielders played clean, for the most part.”
Calaveras got Alanda Cardon (3 for 4, double) on to start the seventh with a single, and Ripon freshman shortstop Rhylee Magazinovic helped see to it that Cardon would get no further than second base. Keelie Koepp followed Cardon with a slow rolling grounder that got inside of third baseman Lilly Mejia only for Magazinovic to cover the ball deep in the hole and get it to first base in time to get Koepp.
Magazinovic got the next out on another groundout, and the game ended on a comebacker to Thomason.
“It was really like a slow roller,” Magazinovic said. “I knew that if the third baseman couldn’t get it I could, so I kept going and played through it.
“It feels great to be a freshman and be on a section-winning team.”
Mejia (2 for 4, two RBI) may not have got to that grounder in the seventh, but she came up big for the Indians (24-2) in the sixth. Leading 5-3 with two outs, Caitlynn Campbell on third and Myra Toledo (two runs) on second — after both had been moved up 60 feet by Magazinovic’s sacrifice bunt – Mejia laced a two-RBI single to left that plated Campbell and Toledo for a pair of insurance runs.
“With two outs I knew I needed to get those two runs in,” Mejia said. “I knew if we had those our pitcher would feel more comfortable in the circle and give her more of a cushion.
“She’s not a strikeout pitcher, but she will force them to hit pop-ups and grounders.”
Ripon scored two runs in the first inning. Magazinovic singled to start the frame and McKenna Daley (two runs) followed with a bunt single. Mejia singled to load the bases, setting up a sacrifice fly by Thomason to score Magazinovic. Daley scooted home on a wild pitch.
“We jumped out there for a second,” Vernon said. “And then we had to hold on until it was over. I knew they’d make a run as they are a great hitting team. We had to keep the pressure on and make plays.
“I told them I had all the confidence in the world in them, but they were in for a struggle.”
The Indians scored five runs in the final three innings. In addition, the Mejia’s two-RBI single in the sixth, Ripon scored two in the fifth when Toledo scored on an error off the bat of Daley and Daley came home on a fielder’s choice by Sydney Vernon. The Indians tallied one run in the fourth when Thomason doubled to lead off the frame and came in on a single by Toledo.