STOCKTON — Nobody from the Western Athletic Conference could hang with the Valley Oak League teams in the first two round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 playoffs Thursday night.
Oakdale dispatched two WAC teams via the 10-run mercy rule, defeating Los Banos, the WAC’s second-place team, 17-0 in the opener and WAC champion Ceres 11-0 in the nightcap.
“Early in the year we were scoring a lot of runs. Then we fell on hard times and we lost our last two league games,” Oakdale coach Larry Loger said. “I think we’ve been frustrated the last few weeks. We’ve been used to scoring 10, 11 runs and we haven’t been doing that lately. But we have some hitters.”
Oakdale held a tenuous 2-0 lead over Ceres heading into the fifth inning before exploding for a seven-hit, nine-run inning, during which catcher Maddi Hackbarth doubled and launched a bases-clearing triple as the Mustangs batted around.
“I used to play with them, and I knew if I got one right in the zone I had to swing at it,” Hackbarth said. “It’s exciting, because last year in the playoffs we kind of went down. It just gives us motivation to keep going.”
Shortstop Haley Fuller also had two extra-base hits that inning, the second of which led to a scary moment when it took a bad hop in the outfield and hit Megan McCormick in the side of the head. McCormick came off to a pack of ice.
Offensively, Ceres managed just two hits off of Oakdale starter Melinda Koppinger, one of them a Mahlena O’Neal double in the second inning.
In the other second-round game, East Union’s three-run fifth tied the game 3-3 and sent the game to an eighth inning, but Sierra responded with four runs in the top of the extra frame.
East Union mounted one last attack in the bottom of the eighth, with an Alejandra Rascon run-scoring double closing the gap to 7-5, but a sacrifice bunt and a groundout ended the threat.
Oakdale advanced to the second round with a 17-0 drubbing of Los Banos in the opener, jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the top of the first inning on four hits, two walks and an error. The Mustangs chased LB starter Brianna Flores in the second inning during a seven-hit streak punctuated by a Melanie Benge double to left field.
Oakdale added three more runs in each of the fourth and the fifth to end the game on the 10-run rule.
Ceres, the Western Athletic Conference champion, defeated Union Mine 2-1 in the first round on a seventh-inning comeback.
East Union, the Valley Oak League champion, needed a first-round comeback of its own, trailing Pacheco 2-0 after the first 41/2 innings. But EU’s Cherish Burks tied the game with a single swat of the bat, singling up the middle and ending up on third base after an error on the throw home.
Jordan Vinson singled her in, and a Delany Pamplin double down the right field line gave East Union all the offense it needed. Pacheco didn’t get a runner on base in the last two innings.
Sierra advanced to the second round with a 2-0 victory over Cosumnes Oaks.
Today’s double-elimination portion of the bracket kicks off at 5 p.m., with East Union and Ceres facing off in an elimination game and Sierra and Oakdale playing in the top-bracket game.
The EU/Ceres winner faces the Sierra Oakdale loser in another elimination game at 7 p.m.
The championship is at 11 a.m. on Saturday.