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Lady Mustangs Have To Settle For Second Best
Oakdale High senior Heather Snow walks off the field as a Lady Mustang for the final time as the Bear River Bruins celebrate their third consecutive Section title. - photo by JAGADA CHAMBERS/THE LEADER
Heading into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Softball Championships the Oakdale High varsity softball team knew that they would make a lengthy run, yet its run came up a little short in a title game loss to Bear River High on May 16 at Arnaiz Stadium in Stockton.
The Lady Mustangs put up a valiant fight in their season finale, holding a potent Bear River offensive attack to a single run over the game’s first six innings, but in the span of two batters in the seventh inning, Oakdale’s fortunes would change.
An infield single put the Bruins’ leadoff batter on and a line drive from Bear River’s most talented player left Oakdale holding on to the remnant of a great season.
“I think we were one or two plays, one or two pitches away,” Oakdale head coach Larry Loger said of earning the Section banner. “We hit the ball hard at people all week. We did what we needed to do to get to the final, but then we kind of let things get away.”
Oakdale turned in a superb tournament, putting together a 3-2 record with both losses coming to the eventual section champion.
“Bear River was really good,” Oakdale senior leader Monique Galvan said. “They really put their heart into it and played with a lot of emotion.
“We played well, they just came out on top.”
Galvan led a crew of Lady Mustangs that were poised to close out this season stopping Bear River’s consecutive section title run at two seasons, but even when it seemed Oakdale would be in position to make a run, Bear River would find a way to keep the advantage.
“Although we didn’t play our best in the playoffs,” Loger said, “I really feel we had a great season. VOL champions, a 25-6-1 overall record and section runners up.
“We began talking about being in the section finals in November during pre-season conditioning,” Loger continued. “I am happy for our girls to have earned that goal.”
Getting to the title game was no easy feat for the Lady Mustangs, who had to eliminate two programs on their way to the championship final. Oakdale eliminated the Whitney Wildcats in its tournament opener and then knocked out a determined Lincoln Fighting Zebras squad 4-3 with their tournament life at stake.
Oakdale held a two run lead over the Fighting Zebras with an inning to play, but found themselves pushed to the brink with the tying run on third base and their chances at the big game coming down to two batters.
“Danielle Onken got two big hits with runners on base against Lincoln in the losers bracket game,” Loger said. “And then Andrea struck out the last two batters with the tying run on third.
“A very exciting finish.”
Oakdale got quality production up and down the lineup, including massive tournament output from Galvan and sophomore Marrisa Toy. The pair got hits in each of the Lady Mustangs’ tournament contests and helped push Bear River to the brink with Oakdale’s only two hits.
“I think I prepared myself really well for this tournament,” Galvan said after the upsetting loss. “I was very focused for this week as our entire team was. Without them none of this could have even happened.
“We played a solid tournament; they were just the better team.”
Galvan paced the Lady Mustangs, putting on an offensive clinic in the batter’s box, going 6-for-15 on the week and collecting clutch hit after clutch hit. Toy was as impressive, going 7-for-16 in the section tournament including a 3-for-3 performance in Oakdale’s do-or-die game against Lincoln.
Oakdale third baseman Mackenzie Taylor made her presence felt, turning in solid defense at the hot corner and chipping in multi-hit games in two of the Lady Mustangs’ three wins. Maddy Willett went 2-for-3 in the initial loss to Bear River, while teammate Danielle Onken went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI in the second win over Lincoln.
The Lady Mustangs will lose a chunk of talent in their graduation losses, but with an undefeated junior varsity team to choose from and several starters returning next season, Oakdale feels it may have another shot to stop an impressive Bear River run.
“I am really proud of everybody in our program,” Loger said. “This is not a negative, we’ll be ready to go next year.
“I see us getting even better again next season.”