The softball fates are pulling together seniors Lexie Webb of Oakdale and Marissa Bertuccio of Golden Valley.
They’re the area’s top two players, so the connection process has worked its course. They’ll lead their respective teams into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Tournament next week.
“She (Webb) is a force both as a pitcher and with the bat,” Bertuccio praised.
“We have bonded a lot. She is so good,” Webb said in reference to her counterpart.
Truth be told, the fun may just be starting. Their roads merged years ago.
Both were mentored by local pitching coach Jimmy Dyson. Both have pitched the past few years for the 18-under Batbusters, one of the nation’s top girls fastpitch programs. And both grew to like each others’ talents.
In fact, they join Dos Palos senior Janessa Jasso – the state leader with 311 strikeouts who will soon head to Iowa State – for one more run this summer with the Batbusters.
“It’s so much fun with Janessa and Lexie,” Bertuccio said. “It’s a friendly competition. They’ve made me step up my game.”
Bertuccio virtually carried Golden Valley, the section’s No. 3 seed, into the tournament. The Cougars (24-3) tied with Patterson for the Central California Conference title, their first league crown since 2005.
The numbers echo the truth. Bertuccio, bound for Sacramento State, is batting .541 with six home runs, 31 RBIs and 16 extra-base hits. In the circle, she’s a hard-working 24-3 with a 0.33 earned run average and 271 strikeouts (third in the state) in 167 2/3 innings. She’s yielded only eight earned runs and tossed three no-hitters and one perfect game.
One word: Domination.
More of the same comes from Webb, who will wear Fresno State red next year. She is the main reason why Oakdale (23-0-1), top-ranked in Division III by Cal-Hi Sports and also No. 1 by frontrowpreps.com, rolled to the Valley Oak League title and annexed the No. 1 seed in the section bracket.
All Webb has done is log a 14-0 record with a 0.52 ERA, featuring 179 strikeouts in 94 innings (over two per inning). At the plate, she is even more lethal. She is batting .630 with eight home runs, 37 RBIs and 19 extra-base hits. She would have compiled even greater stats if not for intentional passes and mercy-rule-shortened games.
“It’s hard enough being a good hitter or a good pitcher,” Bertuccio said. “Lexie breaks that. She’s both.”
Bertuccio first heard about Webb through Dyson years ago.That they’ve traveled the country together with the Batbusters illustrates mutual skill and athleticism.
“When I first got on that team, I knew it would be a battle against her for pitching time,” Webb remembered. “We’ve been through a lot of big games together.”
Webb’s vanishing drop-ball, contrasting with the risers deployed Bertuccio and Jasso, promise a fascinating summer for the Batbusters. But first things first.
For all of Oakdale’s success over the years, it hasn’t taken home a blue banner since 2014.
“It gives me the chills. It’s not fear but more nerves and excitement. The team is bonding this year,” Webb said.
Oakdale opens section competition Monday vs. Mira Loma while Golden Valley meets Sierra. Division III is loaded this year, mostly due to Oakdale and GV.
Here’s something to remember: Bertuccio and Webb never have pitched against each other. That could change soon, but only if the Mustangs and Cougars collide in the section final.
“My dad mentioned that to me a few days ago,” Bertuccio said. “It’s not like it’s pressure or anything like that. It will be fun to see how things work out.”
The same goes for Webb.
“It never crossed my mind until yesterday,” she said. “My teammates asked me, “Is she good?” All I know is that it will be a challenge (if it happens). Her rise-ball is good and she has a crazy change-up that always gets you on your front foot. It would be a challenge.”
A matchup to savor, if the softball gods approve.