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Multiple Mustang Teams On The Rise
Spring Sports Preview
van cleave
Senior swimmer Nate Van Cleave looks to keep his head above water this upcoming season. Van Cleave is among many returning varsity boy swimmers that should bolster the Mustangs in the pool. DENNIS D. CRUZ/THE LEADER


Over the last three months, Mustang sports fans have made their way into the school’s main gym to watch the winter sports of wrestling and basketball. Now that the sun is out, and the skies are clearing up, Oakdale fans will soon be able to make their way back outside to enjoy several spring sports, as student athletes look to close out the school year with a final sports season.

With baseball, softball, girls soccer, track and field, boys tennis, boys golf and swimming about to start, Oakdale sports fans will have plenty to choose from.

Oakdale baseball begins league play on Wednesday, March 16 when they begin their home-and-home series with Manteca. Last season the Mustangs finished in second place in the Valley Oak League (VOL) with a league record of 11-3. The team may have lost a few of their heavy hitters from last season, but the team welcomes back veteran players; Ben Solorio, Logan Hall, Bryce Kirk, Tyler Hall, Sean Gingerich, Nick Moore and Adam Olsen to the field. Oakdale welcomes several new faces to the diamond as well including, Vito Rodin (pitcher and outfielder), Cullen Bearden (outfielder and first base), Austin Manning (pitcher) Jordan Williams (outfielder) and Blake Whiting (pitcher and outfielder).

“I expect this team to compete with the best in the area. I expect them to represent the community, school, the program and families with class, integrity and grit,” said third year manager Nate Gregory.

The last two season Oakdale has been eliminated from the postseason in the first round.

“We need to play with confidence in pressure situations. We need to grow from the first inning of last year’s playoff game,” said Gregory on the team taking the next step forward. In their 10-5 playoff loss last year to Yuba City, Oakdale gave up five runs in the first inning.

The 2015 season did not end the way veteran coach Larry Loger and the varsity softball team wanted it to. In 2014 the team went 12-2 in VOL and was co-league champs. Oakdale went on to win the Sac-Joaquin Section Championship a few weeks later. However, the girls fell to Cordova 6-1 in the first round of last year’s playoffs.

“I think last year we played more as individuals, and this year we need to play as a team. Coach Loger has already corrected that and we are focused as a team in 2016,” senior outfielder Kindra Hackbarth said.

The Lady Mustangs have an impressive group of returners headlined by Kindra and Maddi Hackbarth, Haley Fuller and Grace Green. The team also welcomes in highly anticipated freshman Lexi Webb, pitcher and infielder to the lineup.

“We will showcase a strong senior class as well as a good group from last year’s junior varsity team. We will have one of our best lineups in years. The VOL will be very competitive. East Union is the defending Section Champion. Manteca and Sierra will be strong as well,” Coach Loger said.

Oakdale’s first league game will be at home against Kimball on Thursday, March 17 at 4 p.m.

Head soccer coach Alfredo Quiroga returns to the sidelines for the Lady Mustangs. Last season Oakdale went 8-3-3 in league, finishing in third place. Oakdale made a playoff appearance and fell to the undefeated East Union Lancers in the third round. In 2015 Oakdale said good bye to nine seniors, and have 10 seniors on their current roster. Key returners for Oakdale include a pair of goalkeepers Melissa Ibarra and Kaylee DeRuyter. Other top performers returning to the pitch are Bailey Antonio, Madison Feuerstein and Megan Burke. Freshman Gabriela Mayo, Francesca Ryan, Krissy Lolonis, and sophomores Viviana Albor, Talia Millard and Kylee Black headline newcomers to the team. Oakdale’s first league match is set for Monday, March 21 on the road against Kimball.

Off and running on Thursday, March 10 at Kimball the track and field team begins their season. Oakdale has dominated the scene for the last decade. The girls varsity track team has won league 10 straight years.

“Last year we did really well. This year we have a lot of returners, and so the competition is on us, not so much with other schools. By that I mean we need try to push ourselves to better ourselves and attempt to break records,” said Liza Marsella, who competes in high and long jump for the varsity girls. In field events, Oakdale’s Hannah Chappell will be completing her final season in throws. Chappell competes in discus and shotput. The Alabama-bound senior went to state last season and is looking to return

“I want to win state. I have been working at it for the last three years. It starts now in practice and in the preseason. It involves a lot of lifting and conditioning,” said Chappell.

Her personal record is 151 feet, two inches in the discus.

The golf, tennis and swim teams get their season rolling with golf hitting the links on Thursday, March 3 when they host Lathrop at Oakdale Golf and Country Club.

“I am impressed by the early progress of our team. We hope to continue improving each day,” coach Lee McGhee said. “It is clear that our team this year has been working hard on their skills in the offseason. We (Coach Meyer and I) look forward to a successful season.”

Tennis welcomes back eight of their starters from last season, a team that made the playoffs. New to the squad are Devin Odom and Angel Padilla, both singles players.

Saturday, March 12 Oakdale swim team hosts their March Madness Invite beginning at 9 a.m. Oakdale hosts East Union on Tuesday, March 22 at 3:30 p.m. for their first league meet.