Oakdale High varsity softball coach Larry Loger doesn’t play around.
When he says he’s going to prepare his team for the playoffs the best way possible, you better believe it.
On Monday, a collection of stellar Oakdale alumni and college softball players hit the Oakdale High campus in a scrimmage against the Lady Mustangs’ playoff starters.
The game was one last test of Oakdale’s grit before today’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoff opener against Patterson.
“I am trying to show the girls what it takes to compete at the next level,” Loger said. “It’s an interesting test of what they can do against quality, college-level players.”
And these weren’t just any college players. The lineup of opposition included Oakdale and Stan State graduate Alyssa Guzman, who is top-5 in Warrior history in career home runs, walks and stolen bases. The former first team California Collegiate Athletics Association outfielder and All-Region performer was joined by current Stan State players Missy Corral (an Oakdale graduate) and Corral’s roommate, Sarah Locamini.
Corral was a second team All-CCAA selection this season while Locamini led all Warrior players in hits, triples, runs, stolen bases and batting average.
The Stan State girls joined Oakdale grads Liz Esparza and Monique Galvan (former Valley Oak League defensive player of the year), along with a collection of junior varsity standouts for a formidable Monday scrimmage against the varsity. And considering what’s ahead for this team, it came at the perfect time,
Oakdale’s 5 p.m. showdown with Western Athletic Conference runner-up, Patterson, is the first of six potential games in four days at Arnaiz Stadium in Stockton.
Today’s winner will move on to see the winner of Cosumnes Oaks (Sierra Valley League champion) and VOL No. 3 seed, Kimball in a 7 p.m. championship quarterfinal. The bracket continues with a championship semifinal on Friday, and a consolation entry back into the finals the same day. The team that emerges from that contest will get a shot at the winner of the semis in the first of two potential championship games on Saturday.
If Oakdale can get past Patterson, they will be in a double elimination bracket with only four teams remaining for a chance at the SJS title.
Patterson may have a score to settle coming in.
The Tigers made costly errors that resulted in a 5-4 loss to Oakdale at the Ceres Tournament on March 5. They lost to top tier Division IV programs Modesto Christian and Hughson, but also once beat a Los Banos team that claimed the WAC crown.
A lot of Patterson’s success has centered on senior ace Jessyca Rico, who has 149 strikeouts in 122 innings (1.89 ERA) this season.
“I am pretty sure that this is one of the hardest first round games we have had in a while,” coach Loger said. “They have a really good pitcher and a very good team.”
Oakdale ace Brianna Parker, bound for Texas Southern University, will start for Oakdale after a conference stanza led her to VOL Pitcher of the Year status. Mustang shortstop Marissa “Roo” Toy will also take to another playoff bracket after landing a heroic extra inning RBI to propel Oakdale into the second round of postseason play a year ago.
The pair will be joined by big time sluggers and fellow first-team All VOL selections, Shelby Cordova and Sarah Peterson.
Ghianna Falconi and Kaila Olson also nabbed second team All-VOL recognition.