STOCKTON — Poor decisions, on the bases and in the field, nearly ended Oakdale's softball season Friday night.
The Mustangs managed to overcome their mental miscues, though, for a berth in today's Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV final against two-time defending champ Bear River.
It will be their second meeting in two days — Bear River topped Oakdale 5-2 in Friday's winners' bracket final.
The teams play at noon at Arnaiz Stadium in Stockton, and Oakdale must win twice to bring home a section title.
The Bear River loss forced Oakdale into a do-or-die losers' bracket game. The Mustangs escaped a seventh-inning jam to beat Lincoln 4-3.
"To beat Bear River, we've got to cut out the mental mistakes," said junior Danielle Onken, who went 2-for-3 with two RBIs vs. Lincoln. "We've got to focus on every play."
Oakdale's attention waned at times, including in the seventh inning against Lincoln.
Oakdale was up 4-2, but Lincoln had runners on second and third with one out. Second baseman Marissa Toy snared a hard grounder, but rather than go to first for the out, she threw to the plate.
The runner was crossing the plate when the throw arrived, making it 4-3 and putting runners on the corners. Senior Andrea Lutz bailed out Oakdale, though, by striking out the final two batters.
Toy provided plenty of heroics with her bat, going 3-for-3. She doubled in the fifth and scored what proved to be the winning run on Onken's single. Onken's first-inning double gave Oakdale a 1-0 lead.
"I've been hitting it well, so I'm excited to keep playing," Onken said. "I'm practicing with my travel team, the Runnin' Rebels 18-gold, so I've had the chance to hit off fast pitchers. That's really helped adjust to the faster pitchers that we're seeing this week."
Mistakes while running the bases, including having a runner picked off second and another thrown out easily while trying to score, kept it close.
"Not many teams in the (Valley Oak League) will throw behind runners like these playoff teams do," said Onken, who expects the Mustangs to be more alert today.
BEAR RIVER 5, OAKDALE 2 — Junior shortstop Courtney Ceo, who has verbally committed to play at the University of Oregon, made the difference with her quickness and her glove. She used her feet to get Bear River's first run, turned nine plays in the field without an error and threw out a runner at the plate in the seventh inning to kill an Oakdale rally.
Oakdale, trailing 5-1 in the seventh, put runners on second and third with one out. Toy lined a single off the pitcher's glove, and the runner from third scored as the ball rolled toward second.
As Ceo dashed to retrieve the ball, the runner from second also tried to score — but was gunned down by a quick throw from Ceo. She finished the game by throwing a runner out from behind second.
Oakdale scored a run in the first, as Katy Rissetto walked and Onken was hit by a pitch. Cleanup hitter Monique Galvan flared a one-out single to center to score Rissetto, but Onken got caught off second.
The Mustangs, who scored a total of 10 runs in Tuesday's two playoff wins, didn't do much else until the seventh.Ceo tied it at 1 in the bottom of the first, scoring from second on a groundout to short.
After Bear River got three in the third for a 4-1 lead, Ceo took over on defense. Three times she got to balls that appeared headed to the outfield.