Coach: Larry Loger (ninth season)
Key Returners: SR P Brianna Parker, SR SS Marissa Toy, SR C Brooke Magnussen
Key Newcomers: SO P/1B/3B Shelby Cordova, SO RF Sarah Peterson
Team Strength: Oakdale is extremely well rounded, but boasts some fantastic pitching in ace Parker and bullpen mates Cordova and Shelby Reali. The team can also stroke the ball from each position in the lineup, and should be tough to contain as the year progresses. Oakdale’s postseason experience (four games last year) is also strength, considering they return most of last year’s squad.
VOL Outlook: With back-to-back league championships under their belt, Oakdale is still the team to beat in 2011. League play should get tough with Sierra, East Union and Manteca gunning for victories, but the Lady Mustangs won’t surrender them easily. Sierra gets the first opportunity when the two teams meet to open league play, and it will be Oakdale’s first look at the Timberwolves’ freshman phenom pitcher, Allison Walljasper.
Fast Fact: Nearly all of the 2011 Mustangs spend the off-season with a travel softball club. Oakdale’s scholarship-bound seniors, Toy and Parker, went the solo rout with their respective teams. Reali, Magnussen and Taylor Sanders played for U.S.A. Gold Elite while Cordova, Peterson and Kaila Olson played with the California Grapettes.
“You think you can hit one over the fence when it’s lobbed to you from just a few feet away?” Oakdale senior Brianna Parker was asked just before she takes the plate for batting practice recently.
“I don’t think so,” Parker replied. “They aren’t coming at me fast enough.”
Coach Larry Loger announced Parker’s last pitch, and then was taken for a ride over the left field fence, across a walkway and off the arm of an unsuspecting underclassman lingering near the JV dugout.
Parker should know better than doubt her own abilities after an impressive three-year prep career that has already garnered a verbal commitment to play softball at Texas Southern University on a partial scholarship.
Between Parker, San Jose State-bound Marissa Toy and a deep cast of travel ball wonders, Oakdale has the experience and talent to accomplish just about anything this season.
The Lady Mustangs return most of their starting lineup from a season ago, including their biggest clutch hitter (Toy), ace (Parker) and hard-hitting catcher (Brooke Magnussen). And last year saw a season that Oakdale grasped for a Valley Oak League championship and 2-2 run deep into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs (third).
“I think we can outdo what we did last year and take first (sections) this year,” Toy said. “We have a good team and I feel like we are going to do really well.”
Oakdale is 4-1-1 on the young season, fresh off an undefeated romp through the Bulldog Classic in Riverbank.
Oakdale opened their season with a 10-3 rout of Central Catholic after five innings and seven strikeouts from Parker and a big hitting day from Toy (2-for-5, two runs, two RBI, double, home run). Taylor Sanders went 3-for-5 with three RBI, two doubles and a home run while Shelby Cordova (two innings pitched, three strikeouts) added two hits.
Oakdale out-hit Merced 9-7 on March 1, but fell in a 5-1 score after a disastrous third inning with two costly errors. Sanders was 2-for-4 while Sarah Peterson and Magnussen each went 2-for-3. Shelby Reali tossed two innings with three strikeouts while Parker struck out eight in four innings of a losing effort.
Oakdale kicked off the Bulldog tournament with a 6-0 win over Pitman after seven strikeouts in four innings from Reali. Kaila Olson had a double while Reali (triple) and Peterson (two hits) managed two RBI each.
Oakdale then shut down Modesto Christian in a 3-0 score after nine strikeouts and a two-hit shutout from Parker (double). Toy was 2-for-3 with a triple and RBI as well.
Oakdale’s tie came in a 4-4 deadlock with Enochs after two innings each from Cordova (four strikeouts, three earned runs) and Parker (two strikeouts, one run allowed). Toy had a hit and a run while Parker belted an RBI single and Stephanie Fauria hit 1-for-1. Reali also belted a double.
Oakdale took Patterson in a 5-4 score to wrap up Saturday’s tourney action. Reali tossed two-and two-thirds innings and scored the eventual winning run after stealing third and grabbing home on an overthrow.
Francesca Orvis played a solid three innings behind the plate while Peterson (2-for-2, double), Ghianna Falconi (1-for-3, double) and Cordova (1-for-2, RBI triple) all swung the bat well.
Oakdale stole an amazing 14 bases in tourney action, and sports speed from nearly every spot in the lineup. It’s this speed, combined with solid hitting across the board and spectacular pitching, that has had coach Loger excited about his team’s potential this year.
“I think we are pretty strong through all nine spots of the order, you can’t let up on our lineup,” Loger said. “We pitch well, hit the ball well and we have got some speed too.”
With Danielle Onken (graduated) gone from her post at shortstop, Oakdale has moved returning all-league second baseman, Toy, to that position, and dropped Olson in from the outfield to play second. Onken and Davis & Elkins College star Alanna Jones (outfield) are virtually the only major losses from the 2010 season roster.
The big returns have put Oakdale in good position to snare a third straight Valley Oak League title, but it won’t be easy. Sierra is expected to challenge for a title after the rising production of lanky freshman pitching sensation, Allison Walljasper.
East Union also is a routine contender for the VOL’s top honors, and Manteca could figure into the top-three as well.
“We are the two-time defending VOL champions, and champions now until another team can prove otherwise,” Loger said. “I know we are going to have a good season, and it just comes down to making the playoffs and seeing what we can do when we get there.”
Oakdale is at St. Mary’s today, March 9, at 5 p.m.