Monday’s Valley Oak League showdown between the Kimball and Oakdale varsity softball teams (May 2) gave both programs a clear shot at the second seed from the Valley Oak League into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
And that seed belongs to Oakdale
Leading 3-1 in the top of the seventh and final inning, Ghianna Falconi made a heroic dive across center field to snag a leadoff line drive with the top pocket of her glove. The play caused an eruption in a packed crowd of senior day onlookers and gave pitcher Brianna Parker the momentum for back-to-back put outs to end the game.
“When I first saw it come off the bat I started to run towards the ball, and then I just dove, knowing that either I would catch it or I wouldn’t,” Falconi said afterwards. “I did, and it was pretty exciting — though it took all of my remaining strength just to lift that ball up and show I had caught it.”
Oakdale trailed 1-0 after three hitless innings, but Shelby Cordova tied things up in the bottom of the fourth with a deep double to left field that scored Sarah Peterson.
Kaila Olson led of the bottom of the sixth with an 0-2 base hit and advanced to second after a brilliant bunt single by Peterson. Cordova kept her production going with another RBI knock to score Olson and watched a Falconi sacrifice fly to deep left score Peterson’s second run of the game.
Parker allowed just six hits in seven innings of work with five strikeouts. Cordova’s 2 for 3, two RBI performance is just one more highlight in a fantastic late season effort from the Mustang sophomore.
“I have been working on my hitting a lot, and lately the ball has just gone my way,” Cordova said. “It’s exciting to be one of the youngest players on this team and have one of the hottest bats right now.”
The win propelled Oakdale (10-2) comfortably ahead of Kimball (8-4), with only one game left on the league schedule. Sierra (11-2) played Manteca (7-5) on Tuesday, and will claim the league’s top seed, barring disaster in that game.
Oakdale was rolling on the momentum of a quality showing at the ultra-competitive NorCal Softball Classic, where some of the best teams in the state squared off in a talent-loaded Platinum bracket.
Oakdale kicked things off with a narrow 4-2 loss to North Coast Section power, Freedom (15-6). Cordova and Shelby Reali combined for three innings each on the mound, and allowed only five hits.
A game later, Oakdale handed Pioneer (16-2) their second loss of the season in 3-0 fashion after an impressive 2 for 3 stanza from Falconi.
Oakdale bested Oak Ridge in a 4-3 showdown after a strong effort from Parker (seven strikeouts) but fell to a stacked Sheldon (18-4) in a 12-0 heartbreaker to close the affair.
“We saw a lot of quality teams and played three good games against them,” Oakdale coach Larry Loger said. “It was fun to see teams of that caliber.”
Oakdale also punished East Union last week in a key conference match-up that swung Oakdale’s way, 11-4. Parker tossed seven innings with seven strikeouts and watched Lady Mustang hitters tally an incredible 14 hits on the day. Cordova was 4 for 4 with two runs, four RBIs and a triple while Falconi (2 for 3), Reali (2 for 3), Stephanie Fauria (1 for 1, RBI double), Olson (1 for 3, two runs) and Peterson (2 for 3, three runs, triple) all showed hot bats at the plate.
Oakdale’s junior varsity softball team continued their torrid season with a 2-2 showing in the bronze varsity bracket of the NorCal Classic last week. They beat varsity teams from Lathrop and Mariposa, but fell to varsity programs from Modesto and Orestimba (consolation championship).