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Lady Mustangs Clawed By Vista Del Lago Eagles
Rounding the bases is senior shortstop Halley Fuller, who blasted a pair of two-run homers in the teams 11-0 victory over Yuba City. DENNIS D. CRUZ/THE LEADER

The quest for a second CIF Sac-Joaquin Section softball championship in three years was cut short by the Cinderella Vista del Lago Eagles in a thrilling 6-5 extra innings elimination game.

Oakdale’s varsity Lady Mustangs entered the tournament as the number two seed and started the tournament off with a pair of big wins. The Lady Mustangs defeated Cordova 13-3 in the opener before going on a three-day delay due to wet weather to play their second round opponent, seventh seeded Vista del Lago. In their second round meeting Oakdale defeated the Eagles handily 9-1 behind the power of Grace Green, Maddi Hackbarth and Haley Fuller’s back-to-back-to-back home runs in the third inning. The win kept Oakdale in the top half of the bracket and sending the Eagles to the bottom half of the double elimination tournament.

That same night, the Lady Mustangs fell to the third seeded Ceres Bulldogs 5-3. In the highly anticipated matchup, Oakdale could only manage three hits in game. Oakdale led 3-0 after a pair of home runs by Lexi Webb and Fuller in the fourth inning. Ceres answered with three runs in the top of the fifth and put it away with two more in the seventh. Ceres would ultimately be crowned CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champions.

With one loss on their record the Lady Mustangs went back to Sacramento Softball Complex to play the fourth ranked Yuba City Honkers in an elimination game. Behind brilliant pitching by Webb, a stellar defensive effort and loud bats, Oakdale shut out Yuba City for an 11-0 victory to keep their Section championship hopes alive. Fuller added to her home run total after blasting a pair of homers and Webb also went yard for Oakdale in the win.

On a field less than 200 feet away, Vista del Lago pulled off a huge upset win over the top seeded East Union Lancers 2-1 to set up the rematch with Oakdale. Flying high on their upset victory, the Eagles looked to sink their claws into the number two seed.

Oakdale jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a pair of errors by the Eagles infielders that scored Grace Green from second with two outs. The Lady Mustangs added to their lead in the bottom of the fourth with two outs on a Scarlett Brock RBI double to center field to score Webb from third to go up 2-0. Vista del Lago cut the lead down to 2-1 in the fifth.

With the score at 2-1 in the bottom of the sixth, Brock hit a deep shot to left field that took a hop over the fence for a RBI ground rule double to score Webb to give Oakdale a 3-1 cushion to enter the top of the seventh and a chance to close it out. With two outs and runners on second and third, Katie Vretzos hit a two RBI double to tie the game.

The bad luck for Oakdale would continue in extra innings as the Eagles scored three runs in the top of the ninth to take a 6-3 advantage. Attempting a comeback, Oakdale did not go down without a fight as Kindra Hackbarth led the inning off with a single. With one out Maddi Hackbarth got the Oakdale crowd on their feet with a monstrous two run home run over the right field fence to trim the lead down to 6-5. After Oakdale saw a couple more runners reach base, putting runners on first and second with two outs, a ground out to the pitcher ended the game.

“Our goal at the beginning of the year was to win the Section title, so even with all of our numbers and wins, we feel a little let down now that it’s over,” Coach Larry Loger said of the team’s season. “Our seniors have set the bar very high and it will take a lot of hard work on all of our parts to try to live up to the legacy they are leaving behind. I’d like to thank all of our players, parents, sponsors and supporters for all they did for us this season.”

The team had a strong season going 23-3, ranked 125th in the nation and 37th in California. Oakdale outscored the opposition 269-42 and hit a total of 42 home runs, with Maddi Hackbarth and Haley Fuller leading the way with 11 each. The team had seven graduating seniors, all of whom will be continuing to play softball at the college level. Oakdale also had five players make the All Valley Oak League team.