All season, Central Catholic softball coach Sam Nichols has preached to his team the importance of timely hits.
Not being able to get on base enough hurt the Raiders in nonleague losses to Lincoln-Stockton and Tracy, but since then, the team has seen its production increase at the right time.
That continued Wednesday afternoon in an extra-innings game against Valley Oak League rival Oakdale High when the Raiders (24-3, 10-0 VOL) came through with back-to-back home runs in the top of the eighth inning to secure a win over the Mustangs, a perfect VOL record and potentially a top seed in the Division III section playoffs.
“We’ve had big hits, but it’s come from different people up and down the lineup, and I think that has given the team a lot more confidence as a whole and is bonding them together,” Nichols said. “They’re starting to feel confident where it doesn’t have to be just one through four. Everyone has a chance to get that timely hit.”
Raegen Everett and Randi Roelling were locked in a pitcher’s duel for seven innings. Everett allowed just three hits and struck out 12 batters for the Mustangs without giving up a run. Roelling surrendered three hits and fanned 15.
The Raiders’ ace reached a milestone in the game, recording her 900th career strikeout. She finished the complete game shutout with 17 strikeouts and zero walks.
Roelling helped the Raiders secure their fourth straight win over Oakdale dating back to last season. After losing 1-0 during 2022 VOL play, Central Catholic won the final regular season meeting and beat them in the 2022 Division III section semifinals. They also won the first league matchup this season 6-0.
“I get nervous the night before when I go to bed,” Roelling said of the anticipation when playing Oakdale. “But I know that I have my team behind me and we’ve gotten even better this year now. As a senior, I wanted to win.”
The top of the lineup came up big for the Raiders in the top of the eighth inning. Jazmarie Roberts singled to left field with two outs, bringing up sophomore Taryn Calderon. The shortstop connected on a 2-2 pitch, sending the ball over the left field fence for a two-run home run.
“I thought it was just going to be over the center fielder’s head and Jazz was going to be able to score from that, and then it kept going,” Calderon said. “Halfway to second base, I was like, ‘No way.’
“I was honestly just so shocked that it happened. … I knew I was hitting the ball hard, I was just super early. I moved up in the box and was able to drive it.”
In the next at bat, Roelling drove a pitch to left field that bounced off the fence and rolled away from the left fielder, giving the Cal Berkeley-bound senior enough time to come sliding into home with an inside the park home run.
“I thought it was out off the bat … but it wasn’t tailing as far as I wanted to go,” Roelling said. “After I hit first (base), I picked it up, then I saw the ball roll and I saw (the left fielder) running after it and I was already past third. I picked up and became a speedster.”
Oakdale was able to get runners in scoring position multiple times throughout the game but could not capitalize. Delainey Everett was the Mustangs’ last base runner after sending a one out double to left field in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Mustangs could not mount a comeback in the bottom of the eighth inning as Roelling struck out two of the final three batters she faced.
With the win, Central Catholic finished the regular season with a 10-game winning streak and a perfect 10-0 VOL record. They claimed the league championship outright after finishing last season tied with an 11-1 record.
“Oakdale has been the standard around here for a long, long time,” said Nichols. “When I started coaching softball at Modesto High, we would play them in the preseason to show our teams, this is how you play softball. To be able to compete and win it outright … feels good.”
Oakdale finishes the season 18-7 overall and 8-2 in league play. Both teams are ranked in the top 10 of MaxPreps section rankings and will qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs. They are projected to be high seeds when brackets are released Friday afternoon.
Modesto 9, Turlock 8: Senior Dasia Guzman had a game high four hits and freshman Chloe Moreno added two hits and two RBIs for the Panthers, who won their second straight game Wednesday. They end the season 6-9 in CCAL play and 9-9 overall. Turlock’s season ends with a 4-20-1 overall record.
Hilmar 12, Hughson 7: The Yellowjackets scored five runs in the top of the eighth inning to break a 7-7 tie after seven innings, securing their fourth Trans-Valley League win. Though they broke a three game losing streak in their final game, finishing in the league’s fourth spot puts them on the outside looking in on the postseason.
Ceres 6, Los Banos 5: In a game that was originally rescheduled because of rain, Ceres stole a game from Los Banos with a walk off hit in the bottom of the seventh inning. A double and two walks loaded the bases for Bella Bravo who came through with her only hit of the game, an RBI single to end the game.
Central Valley 12, Patterson 2: The Hawks continued their historic season with a five-inning win over the Tigers. Janessa Godinez picked up the win and hit a three-run home run to help secure Central Valley’s 19th win of the season. They qualified for the playoffs for the first time in school history with an 11-1 CCC record.
Riverbank 7, Escalon 4: Maya Guzman hit a home run and had three RBIs to lead the Bruins to their seventh TVL win. Riverbank is currently in second place in the league with just one game remaining on Thursday against Livingston. Macie Vickers had two triples for Escalon and Shelby Wilder finished with three RBIs.
Orestimba 11, Le Grand 1: The Warriors are just one win away from their second straight perfect Southern League record after Wednesday’s win. Jacquelyn Lujan pitched all seven innings, striking out 15 batters and was one of four batters with three hits. Sophia Dooley and Hannah Taft led the team with two RBIs each.
Big Valley Christian 10, Venture Academy 0: The Lions scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth and went on to beat the Mustangs in five innings. Four Lions finished with an RBI in the win that helped them secure third place in the Central California Athletic Alliance.
Lathrop 8, Johansen 3: The Vikings scores once in the top of the first and twice in the top of the sixth, but were unable to keep the Spartans off the basepaths Wednesday. Lathrop scored eight runs on five hits.
Hughson 10, Ben Holt College Prep 0: Caleb Wilson pitched a complete game shutout with seven strikeouts. Hughson scored four runs in the second and third innings to break the Division V quarterfinal open. Four players had a double including Gavin stone, who finished with a team high four RBIs. The No. 4 Huskies travel to No. 1 Sutter for the first game of a three game set in Monday’s semifinals.
Bradshaw Christian 7, Escalon 0: The Cougars were shut out by David Wiser, who struck out 10 batters. Escalon was only able to produce two hits as the season ended with a 12-12 record.
Turlcok Christian 11, Foresthill 1: Gavin Farinha pitched the full six innings, striking out 12 batters and allowing a pair of hits as the No. 1 Eagles look to defend their section title. Gavin Farinha also hit a home run and added two RBIs while Joe Farinha drove in three runs, a team high. The Eagles take on No. 5 Valley Christian in the Division VII semifinals.
Ripon Christian 16, Rio Vista 3: Five Knights drove in a pair of runs in the Division VII quarterfinals at home. Eli Terpsma finished with a team high two hits. Luke Crivello and Micah English combined for nine strikeouts in five innings. No. 3 Ripon Christain travels to No. 2 Woodland Christian for the first game in a best of three series Monday.