The hopes of repeating as CIF Section champions came to a screeching halt when the Oakdale Lady Mustangs fell to Cordova on Tuesday night, May 12. Oakdale came out on the short end of a 6-1 score at the Sacramento Softball Complex in Sacramento to the Lancers.
Oakdale entered the CIF Sac Joaquin Section Division III tournament as the five seed and was named the home team in their first round match up against the 12th seeded Cordova squad. Last season the team won the Division IV title, but moved up to Division III this past summer.
“A very strong field in the playoffs (D III) this year, we misplayed a few balls to extend that fourth inning, and couldn’t get our offense going. It was a tough way to end a good season,” Coach Larry Loger summed up following the loss.
Oakdale started freshman Grace Green in the circle, a task that the young pitcher has embraced in her first season as she has started in big games before. Green pitched three scoreless innings before things began to unravel for the Lady Mustangs in the fourth. Cordova figured out the freshman and racked up five runs in that inning, forcing Loger to turn to his senior lefty Melanie Benge.
Prior to Green’s departure, the Lady Mustangs committed two errors in the top of the fourth inning, to help Cordova pull away.
The Lady Mustangs had opportunities to get back into the game, including the bottom of the second inning when they had runners on first and second with no outs, but came up empty. Down 6-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Oakdale scored their lone run in the bottom of the sixth inning when catcher Maddi Hackbarth brought in her sister Kindra on an RBI double with one out. Hackbarth’s hit was the Lady Mustangs fifth and final hit of the game, and the team’s season.
“Obviously this game didn’t go how we wanted it to, but at the end of the day, this one game does not define our entire season,” reflected senior Megan Reali. “Two years ago we got knocked out of the first round, and then came back last year and won sections, so I hope next year’s team uses this year’s loss as motivation again.”
The third baseman continued on, sharing: “We have had a great season and played some great games. I will always remember the good games over this loss. I am so grateful to have played for this program with the best girls and coaches. I wish them the best of luck in the coming years.”
The loss was not only difficult for the seniors but it was also hard on the coaching staff, who saw the team’s three senior players finish their high school career on the losing note.
“Thanks to our three seniors; Megan Reali, Melanie Benge and Caylie O’Neal for all that they brought to our program and best of luck in college next year,” coach Loger said, showing his gratitude toward his three seniors. “And thank you to all of our supporters throughout the year. We’re looking forward to next season.”