Eight-run inning by Oak Ridge buries Lady Bruins
Pitcher Kasey Stanchek got the outs, catcher Jackie Schmaeling hit one out and the Oak Ridge defense turned three outs on one play as the Trojans defeated host Ponderosa 11-3 in the teams’ final Delta River League softball matchup.
The score was tied 2-2 at one point before Oak Ridge broke out with eight runs in the fourth inning. Highlights included Renee Bardini’s RBI double, Jenessa Jeppesen’s RBI double, Megan Watson’s two-run single and Schmaeling’s two-run round-tripper to deep left field. Troy also benefited from three triples — two from lead-off Lauren Bertoy and one from Jade Matsumoto.
While Tuesday’s intra-county match-up was competitive it was bittersweet — neither Oak Ridge (4-5) nor the Bruins (3-6) qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs — unusual for both programs.
“I’ve never been golfing this early,” Trojan coach Marc Bentovoja said. “To say the move to Division I was the determining factor (on missing the playoffs) would be a discredit to the other teams in our conference. I’m proud of the kids because they were tested. We went out and competed but just not well enough to get into the playoffs.”
The Bruins also wrap up sooner than expected and won’t have worries about missing graduation ceremonies and all the other senior festivities.
“It is odd. Normally the team party is two weeks after the last game. Unfortunately now it’ll be earlier,” Ponderosa coach Dwayne Brekke said.
Several calls the Bruins didn’t get hung over the game after the last outs were recorded. One, in the very first inning, put up Oak Ridge’s first run and the other wiped away two Bruins runs in the third after the hosts had pulled even on RBI singles from Skye Jerpbak and Rebeca Campos. Had Ponderosa gotten the second call, it would have been a 4-2 game in the Bruins’ favor.
“A couple of close calls went against us but give Oak Ridge credit because they took advantage,” Brekke said. “I’m happy with the way our girls put the ball in play against Kasey (Stanchek) up and down the lineup.”
Benotovoja implored his team to step up offensively and the Trojans responded, sending 10 batters to the plate in the fourth.
“We started off kinda slow. We were still hitting the ball hard but after those two runs (by Ponderosa) were called back we took that momentum and broke it open,” said Watson, who went 2-for-3 with four RBIs.
Jerpak drove in the Bruins’ third run in the fifth after Olivia Lucatuorto had tripled. Lucatuorto was 2-for-2 for Ponderosa with two walks while Giana Bilotta added a triple.
“You can’t blame this on the umpires — we definitely didn’t play our best defense,” Lucatuorto said. “The jump to D-I was a challenge for us but our goal was to make the playoffs. A few more wins, we would have had it.”
For Oak Ridge, Bertoy, Matsumoto, Watson, Schmaeling and Stephanie Brenneman each had two hits.