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Stranded runners spoil Navarros sterling debut
Melissa Bond lays down a bunt. - photo by BRANDON PETERSEN/The Bulletin
TRACY — The youth movement is in full swing at Manteca High, and while slugger Trina Solario represents the only senior leadership this season, that doesn’t mean the Buffaloes can’t play a little ball.

Sophomore Mariah Navarro made her first varsity start for head coach Todd Hardcastle in a 2-0 loss Wednesday afternoon at West High, and was more than merely solid — she was nearly perfect through the first five frames.

Navarro faced the minimum 15 batters over the stretch, walking just two and forcing nine groundball outs.

West scored two runs in the sixth, both unearned, on the Wolf Pack’s first hit, an Elida Rubio triple that plated Allison Noble, and a subsequent wild pitch that Rubio scored on.

Navarro allowed just two hits all afternoon.

“They hit maybe four balls to the outfield,” Hardcastle said. “That’s not bad. If Mariah can keep it on the ground, with our defense, we’ll be fine.”

Solario and junior Kayla Campbell make-up a talented defensive tandem up the middle, and the pair was outstanding in the loss.

Solario turned in a tap-and-throw double play in the first and completed five groundball outs, while Campbell handled three on the ground and recorded every out in the third.

Catcher Danielle Roberts was nails as well, especially in the fifth when she picked off a leaning runner at first with a frozen rope.

“We played great, the defense looked very good,” Hardcastle said.

And while the Buffaloes had to stomach a goose-egg on the scoreboard after the final out was recorded, it was Manteca that consistently threatened on the base paths, and had every opportunity to break it open.

“The difference between winning and losing is taking advantage of the opportunities we have,” Hardcastle said.

Manteca had runners on in the first, third, fourth and seventh, and had two on and no outs in the sixth, with Solario stepping to the dish.

But after Solario just missed on a fastball and popped up harmlessly, Chandler Rose drilled a line shot right at the second baseman, and Chelsea Lee squibbed a dribbler back to the mound.

“We had runners at first and second with three of my best hitters coming up,” Hardcastle said. “That’s two runs in the bank most of the time, but it just didn’t happen today.”

Solario finished 1 for 2 with a single and a walk, and reached on three out of four plate appearances.

Campbell had a pair of doubles, and Lee smashed a line shot in the fourth, but the West centerfielder had to move less than a foot to make the grab.

“If we can get this type of performance out of Mariah, we’re going to be in every game,” Hardcastle said. “Mariah did her job, we just didn’t do ours.”

The Buffaloes (0-2) travel to Jackson today to kick off the Argonaut Tournament.

First up is a meeting with Tokay.

The tournament is a three-day event that wraps Saturday afternoon.

To contact Brandon Petersen, e-mail, or call (209) 249-3543.