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Lady Mustangs Land VOL Softball Crown
Oakdale seniors from left, Heather Snow, Andrea Lutz, Monique Galvan and Katy Rissetto pose before their final game played at Oakdale High. - photo by JAGADA CHAMBERS/THE LEADER
The Oakdale High varsity softball team walked into its Valley Oak League finale against Sonora focused on not letting the Wildcats spoil any of their postseason chances, but by the time Oakdale finished off Sonora 4-0, decisions were being made that made the Lady Mustang squad the VOL champions.
Oakdale seemingly would conclude the season in a four-way tie at the top of the VOL standings alongside Sierra, Ceres and East Union, all with 11-3 records. Only a situation from East Union’s April 20 win over Sonora left a few pebbles unturned.
“Originally East Union thought the ruling was a disqualification for a player wearing jewelry,” VOL Commissioner Norm Antinetti said. “As we dug into it deeper the official said it was for attitude/sportsmanship.
“Once we discovered that, we had to go back and take a game away from East Union.”
The Lancers’ next game was a 2-0 victory over the Lady Mustangs. The player in question was allowed to participate in that following contest, which it was later ruled she should have been disqualified from, handing Oakdale a VOL crown.
All four squads were in position to allow coin flips to decide their fates, leaving two teams with the thrill of a lifetime and two squads with bitter feelings. Now the league’s decision will oust the 10-4 Lancers and shove Sierra to the side due to its head-to-head record against the Ceres Bulldogs.
Oakdale still had a battle ahead of them that they could not lose, however, and the squad responded as they have done all season. The Lady Mustangs ran into a hot Ceres club that had just beaten Sierra and East Union.
If the Lady Mustangs didn’t put together a quality showing in Ceres, discussions about the postseason would have all been moot.
“If we don’t beat Ceres,” Oakdale head coach Larry Loger said, “no matter what would have come with this East Union thing, we’d be out of the playoffs. That was the biggest game of the year for us.
“Brianna (Parker)’s performance in that game was pretty dominant.”
Parker held a potent Ceres offense in check, going seven innings for the Lady Mustangs, striking out 14 and walking just one batter. Oakdale cruised to a 6-1 victory with a total team effort.
The Lancers likely will exhaust all of their options including contacting the CIF Section for an appeal, but if the governing body backs the VOL’s ruling Oakdale’s postseason will have already been under way.
If the Lady Mustangs come out of the Lancers last-ditch efforts unscathed, the squad will hopefully be preparing for a second-round contest against the winner of Rio Linda and Lincoln of Lincoln’s first round match up.
A win there would leave Oakdale one victory short of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship game May 16 at Arnaiz Stadium.
Oakdale will undoubtedly be one of the tournament’s likely favorites, boasting one of the deepest pitching staffs along with an offensive unit that can explode for runs at any given time.
“In the playoffs it’s all about small ball,” Loger said. “Bunt defense, bunting the ball, moving over the few runners that you’re going to get. The pitching is on another level.
“In my experience, the small things are what get you in the championship.”