Only Vizzini from the 1987 film The Princess Bride could accurately explain the latest escapades of Oakdale High’s softball program.
A dire and desperate situation for the varsity Lady Mustangs took a stunning turn for the better as the squad sparked an inconceivable comeback over one of the best teams in the state, rallied to five consecutive wins and captured a tournament championship.
The Mustangs, still nursing a 7-4 loss to East Union on March 28, trailed highly touted Kimball 6-1 after four innings on April 3. Facing a likely drop to a 5-7 overall record and a 2-3 conference standing, the Lady Mustangs exploded for 10 runs across the final three frames to stun the host Jaguars 11-6.
“After losing to EU the week before, we needed this game to keep ourselves in the playoff race,” Oakdale coach Larry Loger said. “It was definitely huge.”
The Mustangs carried the momentum of the pivotal conference win into the prestigious NorCal Classic Tournament in Tracy over the Spring Break week. After rains adjusted the schedule, Oakdale was placed into the 14-team Gold Bracket for April 4 and 5 games.
Consecutive wins over Santa Catalina, Lincoln, Oak Ridge and Weston Ranch granted the Lady Mustangs a 30-9 scoring advantage against tourney foes, a hefty Gold Bracket trophy and a precipitously upbeat 10-6-1 (3-2 VOL) record on the season.
Oakdale ended tournament play with a host of hard knocks, including a Lauren Sanders home run. Sanders, Kindra Hackbarth and Hanna Holland were ceremoniously named to the All-Tournament Team.
“We hit the ball very hard during the two days of the tournament,” Loger said. “We had a couple ground-rule doubles roll under the fence that might have been triples.
“The girls had quite a tournament.”
Oakdale returns to league play today, April 10, with a host contest against Manteca. The Mustangs are at Sierra on Friday for a shot to avenge a prior loss against a Timberwolves team (13-1) currently ranked No. 9 in Xcellent 25 national rankings by maxpreps.com.
Oakdale 11, Kimball 6
Rylie Pena pitched the last five innings with just three hits and no runs allowed. She watched as Oakdale knocked around freshman standout Sam Sarmiento in a six-run fifth inning. Kimball’s junior transfer, Amanda Riley, made her much-awaited debut after winning six games for West High as a Wolf Pack sophomore, but couldn’t stop the bleeding and gave up four runs in the last two frames.
Madison Hackbarth (2 for 4, double, RBI), Francesca Orvis (double, run, two RBIs), Anneliese Davis (double, two RBIs), Shelby Cordova (two RBIs), Sanders (two RBIs) and Kindra Hackbarth (two runs) shined at the plate.
Loger said Oakdale rallied back from their 6-1 deficit after a wake-up call from assistant coach Mike Olson.
The Oakdale ‘Bracketeers’ overcame stiff opposition on their own side of the bracket to make things happen.
It started early when the Mustangs overcame a rough draw to stifle Santa Catalina of the Central Coast Section, 7-5 in the tourney’s opening round.
Santa Catalina returns seven of the top eight hitters who led the program to a CCS Division III Championship a season ago. The Charges (14-2) would go on to win the remainder of their games and steal the consolation championship with a 6-1 rout of Pitman. Santa Catalina’s only losses on the year are the 7-5 defeat to Oakdale and a 2-0 defeat to Leland (15-1).
Oakdale rolled past Lincoln 8-0 later in the day to set up a highly anticipated semifinal with an Oak Ridge team considered the juggernaut of the bracket. Against Oak Ridge, Oakdale rallied to four doubles, a triple and the Sanders home run to take a 12-3 lead that stuck. The loss dropped Oak Ridge to the third-place game, where they beat Ripon to advance to a 14-4 mark on the year.
Oakdale would silence upset-minded Weston Ranch a game later to ensure a 3-1 victory and Gold Bracket title.
Mustang leadoff hitter Kindra Hackbarth finished tourney play with a dazzling .636 average at the plate with five runs, four doubles and a triple. Holland belted three doubles from the No. 2 position in the lineup and scored five times. Sanders contributed a four-bagger and three-bagger with her swings while Madison Hackbarth (6 for 10) and Cordova (4 for 8) also displayed hot bats.
“We had quite a few people hitting the ball,” Loger said on Sunday. “It was pretty fun.
“It was a large tournament that put us against some good teams and it breaks our league schedule in half.”