STOCKTON -- There's still next year for Jessica George.
"We don't graduate anyone, and I think this will make us work harder than even," said Waterford's junior pitcher. "I think this is a big step for us."
The Wildcats finished a win away from the school's first Sac-Joaquin Section title, losing 2-0 to Le Grand Saturday in the Division VI title game.
It was the fourth meeting between the Southern League rivals: Waterford had gone 2-1 in the regular season, beating out Le Grand for the SL title. Each won a 10-0 game and Waterford won the third, 2-1.
George and Le Grand's Bri Giampaoli gave up eight hits between them. The only extra-base hit was George's double in the third, but Giampaoli struck out the last two hitters to strand George at third.
Giampaoli drove in Veronica Moreno with a single in the fourth, then Megan Thiel -- after an error kept the inning going -- singled in a run in the fifth for all the scoring.
It was the third straight title for Le Grand and Giampaoli, a senior who pitched the 'Dogs to victory in all three.
"We had hit her in league, but we couldn't get anything going today," George said.
It was Waterford's first appearance in a section softball final, but George says it won't be the last: "If we work on the little things in the offseason -- bunting and improving our defense -- we'll come back here next year and win this title."
WATERFORD 1, CAPITAL CHRISTIAN 0 -- George had a two-hitter, but walks and errors forced her to pitch out of several jams, as the Wildcats upset the Cougars (22-5). Lauren Shafffer, the No 9 hitter, singled with one out in the third, was bunted to second and scored on Dre Books' single. George's greatest challenge was with the bases full and no outs in the fifth, and the cleanup hitter at bat. George got her and the next hitter, and was 3-0 on Monique Harris before blowing three strikes past her to end the inning.
LE GRAND 2, MARIPOSA 0 -- Leadoff hitter Thiel doubled twice, scoring each time, and Giampaoli fired a three-hitter to lift the Bulldogs over the SL rival Grizzlies (10-14). Thiel doubled in the first and scored on Kayleigh Haas' single to left, then she doubled in the third and -- after stealing third -- dashed home on Moreno's groundout to the right side.