OAKDALE – The East Union High Lancers and Oakdale Mustangs met on a windswept diamond Tuesday afternoon and, much like the last decade or so, it was a Valley Oak League summit meeting.
Fortunately for the top-ranked Mustangs, they held the difference-making hammer – senior pitcher Lexie Webb, who struck out 12, scattered six singles and controlled all key moments of Oakdale’s important 5-2 win.
“She gets us out of a bunch of trouble,” Oakdale coach Larry Loger said. “We weren’t great today but our defense was good.”
Oakdale and Sierra shared the VOL title a year ago, but in most years it’s Oakdale and East Union on top. Since 2014 (counting co-titles), the Lancers annexed four titles and a Sac-Joaquin Section championship while Oakdale countered with three titles and its own section banner.
Oakdale (14-0-1, 7-0) grabbed command of the 2019 race with four runs in the third inning to break a 1-1 tie. The first seven Mustangs reached base, and four of them crossed the plate thanks in part to run-scoring hits by Mariyn Waterman and Emily Smith (2 for 3). Two walks and an error also advanced Oakdale’s cause.
Webb twice was walked intentionally, the latter during the third. Such strategy is ongoing, as opponents try to dodge the area's most dangerous hitter. The Fresno State commit still managed two hits later.
“It (the walks) has been happening. The team picked me up,” Webb said. “I was a little nervous early in the game but I calmed down after the third.”
East Union (8-5, 5-1) relied on reliever Hayley Leonard to stay close. Leonard avoided an even more painful third inning by getting the final three outs with the bases loaded, then blanked the Mustangs the rest of the day.
“We gave it away that one inning,” East Union coach Brian Goulart said. “Hayley came in and did a great job.”
The Lancers got Oakdale’s attention with a run in the first via an RBI hit to right by sophomore Allie Parker. But Webb, who opened the game by hitting leadoff hitter Danyelle Godoy, limited the damage by striking out two with two on.
The Mustangs quickly matched that run when Cortney Koelmans – after an intentional pass to Webb – chased home Rilyn Cassaretto (2 for 4) with a sharp two-out single up the middle.
“That hit took the momentum right back,” Loger said.
Though East Union crept to 5-2 in the fifth on Parker’s second RBI hit, Webb re-affirmed control by retiring her last seven batters. That said, the Lancers scrapped by bunting often.
“That’s the first time a team bunted a lot against us,” Webb said. “At that point, I depended on the defense.”
The teams will meet at East Union on May 2 in the VOL finale.
“She (Webb) is legit but we gave her a battle,” Goulart said. “That (the rematch) will be the game of the year.”
East Union 100 010 0 – 2 6 1
Oakdale 104 000 x – 5 10 0
Shelby Cefalu, Hayley Leonard (3) and Mackenzie Salgado. Lexie Webb and Rylie Goodridge. East Union – Allie Parker 2-3, 2 RBIs. Oakdale – Rilyn Cassaretto 2-4; Emily Smith 2-3, RBI, Webb 2-2.
Records – East Union 8-5, 5-1 VOL; Oakdale 14-0-1, 7-0 VOL.
JV—East Union, 3-2