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Jones Honored With Back-To-Back MVPs
You expect accolades from your teammates — not a pie to the face — but Oakdale’s Justin Jones recently had to deal with being the ‘cream’ of the crop, earning his second consecutive VOL MVP nod after being an integral part of the Mustangs’ VOL championship run. Jagada Chambers/The Leader - photo by JAGADA CHAMBERS/THE LEADER
When Justin Jones closed out his second consecutive Valley Oak League season without a defeat, league coaches were left with little to discuss when it came to naming Jones as the VOL’s Most Valuable Player for the second straight season.
Jones put together a career at Oakdale that will go down second to none. This season his dominance over the VOL players was overwhelming. Jones closed out his senior VOL season with a 5-0 record in league play and a save to accompany his lofty .400 batting average when he wasn’t on the hill.
Jones put together a no-hitter over the Central Valley Hawks and a dramatic 16-strikeout win over Sierra during the perfect season. The University of California at Berkley committed southpaw amassed double-digit strikeouts in each of his league starts.
Mustang senior Vince Helms was recognized by the coaches as the league’s Offensive Player of the Year, an honor he shared with Ceres High’s Robert Cope, who is also a senior.
Helms was the catalyst for a potent Oakdale offensive attack, batting in the lead off spot for the Mustangs for nearly the entire season, while turning in remarkable defense from his second base spot.
Helms paced the Mustangs with a league-best 17 stolen bases during the VOL season and belted four home runs for Oakdale over the entire 2009 campaign.
Oakdale also saw outstanding pitcher Nick Vander Tuig recognized with a First Team All-VOL pitcher nod in just his junior season. Vander Tuig is the only junior from the league to be honored with a spot on the first team. Vander Tuig finished the VOL season 5-0 for the Mustangs, striking out nearly 50 batters in his five league wins. Vander Tuig also fared well with a bat in hand, hitting over .400 on the season, including 10 multi-hit games.
Oakdale seniors Dante Major, Logan Bruce and Steven Gratigny were also honored on the VOL’s First team. Major earned a berth on the squad as an infielder, while Bruce and Gratigny were recognized in the honorary squad’s outfield.
Gratigny and Bruce both hit over .300 on the season and both were credited with home runs, one of which was a Bruce grand slam against the East Union Lancers that broke open the Oakdale season.
Major was honored for his stellar play for the Mustangs at the hot corner. Major hit two home runs during the VOL season and hit another tape-measure shot during the Mustangs’ 2009 postseason.
Oakdale head coach Hondo Arpoika grabbed another Coach of the Year Award after leading the Mustangs to a nearly perfect 13-1 VOL mark and an even more impressive 25-5 overall record.
The Mustangs’ quest for their third consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV crown came to an end at the hands of a Placer High squad, yet Oakdale was clearly the cream of the crop for the third straight season in VOL baseball.
Oakdale will look to continue its dominance over the VOL as the varsity squad turns to an undefeated junior varsity squad to fill the holes left by the Mustang graduating class.