In a Valley Oak League (VOL) showdown between two undefeated teams, Oakdale went to East Union on Tuesday, April 12 for the first meeting between the two powerhouses this season. The two teams have combined for the last two CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Championships and were co-champions in the VOL last season. Tuesday’s dramatic rivalry game ended in heartbreaking fashion as Oakdale (11-1, 5-1) fell to East Union (15-0, 7-0) by a final score of 5-3 on a three run walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“A very heartbreaking loss, but we will not let it change who we are or our resolve to win league and the section title. We need more runners on base and to get the timely hits,” said 17-year Lady Mustang head coach Larry Loger following the loss.
Freshman pitcher Lexi Webb was given the nod in the highly anticipated battle. After a scoreless first inning Webb gave up a leadoff home run to East Union’s Delaney Pamplin over the centerfield wall. East Union struck again two batters later on a bunt by Allison Tajii was mishandled by Oakdale’s Maddy Brewer as Brewer overthrew first base, resulting in a run scored by Izabella Owen from second.
The Mustangs offense started off sluggish against East Union, Oakdale got their first base runner of the game on a one out walk to Grace Green in the fourth inning. The offense came alive in the fifth inning when Haley Fuller connected on a one out solo home run to cut the lead down to 2-1. Two batters later, Brewer redeemed herself from her error earlier in the game with a solo two out home run deep to left field tied the game.
“Coach Paul (Hackbarth) and I have been working hard on my swing in the batting cages. Keeping my head down and turning with my hips and other techniques he has shown me were the difference in my at bats, and it showed in the fifth inning,” Brewer said of her monstrous home run shot.
Oakdale built off the two run rally and applied it to their defense with brilliant outfield play by Shay Trent, who came up with a diving catch, and Kindra Hackbarth also coming up with clutch plays throughout the game. The Lady Mustangs home run party continued in the top of the seventh when Webb sent the ball over the fence on a solo home run to give Oakdale a 3-2 advantage.
Webb returned to the circle in the bottom of the seventh to attempt to close out the game. Facing the top of the Lancers order, Michelle Castro hit a single up the middle. With one out, Webb walked Owen to have runners on first and second. Senior Alejandra Rascon entered the batter’s box and delivered the fatal blow to the Lady Mustangs on a three run walk-off home run to center field.
“I think their intensity level was a little higher than ours but in the long run I think we are pretty well matched up. It just depends on who is on their right game at the time we take the field,” Fuller said.
“This is just another game. They are going to lose more games but it is the game we love and that’s what makes it so hard,” was Fuller’s advice to the underclassmen on the team. “But at the same time it is not the end of the world either.”
Oakdale looked to bounce back with a win over visiting Weston Ranch (3-13, 0-7) on Tuesday, April 19 after The Leader went to press. The team hits the road on Friday, April 22 against Manteca (12-6, 6-3) to finish the week; first pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.