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Mustang Squads Grinding Toward Postseason Play
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 With Valley Oak League contests on their final leg, Oakdale High athletes are preparing for runs at the Sac-Joaquin Section postseason, with individual or team advancements from every Mustang sport. Following is a summary of recent Oakdale contests and playoff lineups in baseball, tennis and softball. BaseballThe recent 1-1 split with Manteca set up Oakdale (12-2) for a series of gargantuan proportions this week against Sonora (11-3). If the Mustangs can win at least one of the two contests, they will advance to the Division IV SJS playoffs as the VOL’s No. 1 seed.“When you are talking Oakdale vs. Sonora, it’s a big week, regardless of the league standings,” Oakdale coach Hondo Arpoika said. “The kids are excited. It is nice to be in this position.”The two teams played on Tuesday, though results were not available at press time. Oakdale beat Manteca 4-1 on May 4, but slipped in a 4-3 thriller on Thursday.Cole Branch went 1-for-3 in Oakdale’s win early in the week, collecting three RBIs and a double. Brennon Williams was 2-for-3 in the same contest and tossed four sharp innings with just one run allowed and five strikeouts. Matt Butler allowed only one hit in three innings as well.On Thursday, Kody Simons batted 2-for-4 with two RBIs while Braydon Stephens scored and finished 1-for-2 at the plate. Tanner Combs tossed five innings of work with two strikeouts while Butler notched a strikeout in a one-inning appearance.Oakdale continues the series at Sonora on Thursday, May 13 at 4 p.m.“Each week this team has gotten better, and we expect them to do the same this week,” Arpoika said. “They are playing very well right now.” TennisIt was a reunion of sorts this past week when Blake Dunn and Daniel Dunning joined forces for an Oakdale doubles combo at the Valley Oak League championships.The pair had teamed up two years ago for a run at the VOL finals, and found some old chemistry in a 4-1 finish and second place honors on Thursday.The two will head to Rocklin’s Johnson Ranch Racquet Club on Thursday for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II individual playoffs.“It’s been three years since we have had anyone move on to the divisional playoffs,” Oakdale coach Grant Miller said. “The way they finished the season strong just picked everyone’s attitude up.”The doubles combo saw several close matches en route to the league finals. They topped Ceres’ top doubles combo after a thrilling third-set tiebreaker where Dunn delivered an amazing return along the out line just to keep the team alive.A match later, the team earned a semi-final victory after pushing a Central Valley team into a tiebreaker, and again pulling away in the third set.In the finals, the pair could not pull off the same feat, and fell in 6-4, 4-6, 4-6 scores to Manteca’s Alex McAdams and Alex Barragan.“They played three great matches in a row at the end of that tournament,” Miller said. “It was a nice way to end league.”None of Oakdale’s singles players were able to move on, though Josh Firstbrook delivered an impressive win over talented Sonora athlete, Josh Smith, in the opening round of singles play.Oakdale finished 6-8 in Valley Oak League matches. SoftballThe Lady Mustangs have outscored VOL teams an astounding 75-5 since their April 6 loss to East Union, and will snare sole rights to the league title and No. 1 postseason seed if they can close the year with wins over both Central Valley and Ceres.The team was at Central Valley on Monday, though results were not available at press time. They close the regular season with host Ceres on Thursday.Oakdale had upended Weston Ranch in 15-1 fashion on May 3 after five innings and five strikeouts from starting pitcher, Shelby Reali. Mackenzie Taylor was 3-for-4 from the plate with three RBIs and a triple while Taylor Sanders and Ghianna Falconi added two hits each and a combined five RBIs.The Mustangs topped Manteca in 12-0 form after a combined perfect game from Reali and four-inning hurler Brianna Parker (seven strikeouts). Kaila Olson was 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two stolen bases. Brooke Magnussen belted a triple while Marissa Toy was 2-for-2 with a double and two runs. Olson broke open a tie game in the fifth with a bases-loaded double.The Lady Mustangs bounced Sonora 5-1 on Friday after seven innings and nine strikeouts from Parker. Olson was 1-for-2 with two RBIs while Toy smashed her fourth home run of the season and Taylor ended 3-for-3 with a double.Olson is 8-for-10 in her last three games, tallying six runs from the top of the order.“Kaila continued to set the table for us in the lead off spot,” Oakdale coach Larry Loger said. “It was a very emotional week for us. We lost two of our favorite players due to disciplinary problems.“It is up to everyone to pick things up as we head into the last week of the season and start the playoffs.”