LOS BANOS — Pacheco does playoffs with style.
A Gia Rodoni no-hitter powered the Panthers’ softball team to the first playoff victory in any sport in school history in Monday’s 3-0 win over Vista Del Lago in the outbracket game of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 playoffs.
“I’ve been around since the school opened, and I’ve been a part of every first in some form, and to actually be the coach with the first playoff win makes it a little more special,” said Pacheco coach Charlie Pikas, the former Los Banos High coach who is also Pacheco’s athletic director. “The ball’s going to go up in my trophy case in my room where we have our stuff from our championships.”
Pacheco’s offense put up three runs in the first two innings, and Rodoni did the rest in her second no-hitter this season, with 16 strikeouts, even as VDL pitcher Morgan Hawkins matched her zero for zero over the last five innings. Hawkins struck out seven while holding Pacheco to four hits – two of them from leadoff batter Arianna Barton.
“It’s pretty awesome being the team that did it first,” Rodoni said. “We work hard for it, and this is what we’re wanting and going for.”
Barton got things started for Pacheco with a single over the shortstop in the first inning. She later scored on a Kayla Valdez fielder’s choice. Barton played a big part in the next inning after a walk from Yessenia Castillo and a double from Yadira Castillo, launching a double to left field that scored both baserunners.
“It’s a really good feeling, especially that it was a team effort,” Barton said. “I was pretty nervous going up to bat, but felt good getting a hit and getting two runs in.”
After that, baserunners were hard to come by for either team. Valdez walked in the third inning, and nobody else reached until a Shyanne Vargas single in the fifth. Vista del Lago’s Ally Smith reached in the sixth on an error off a bunt, and became the only Eagle to reach scoring position on a Gaby Segura sacrifice bunt. But a pair of strikeouts left her stranded there.
“We have a couple of errors here and there, but we’ve managed to work around any errors there have been and so because of that, we’re feeling OK,” Pikas said. “But as we move on, we can’t afford to give teams extra outs. This is a very good team, and they’re going to get better.”
Pacheco next faces Valley Oak League champion East Union at 5 p.m. on Thursday at Arnaiz Softball Complex in Stockton.