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‘I’m just glad we had this great season.’ Golden Valley’s title bid falls short.

Oakdale’s Lexie Webb talks about winning section title

Oakdale ace Lexie Webb helped lead the Mustangs to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship with two wins over Golden Valley. Webb talks about bringing home the blue banner.
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Oakdale ace Lexie Webb helped lead the Mustangs to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship with two wins over Golden Valley. Webb talks about bringing home the blue banner.

The Golden Valley High softball team gathered in left field. They cried, laughed and hugged one last time before the lights turned off at the Arnaiz Softball Complex on Thursday night.

The Cougars came to Stockton hoping to bring home the school’s first softball blue section championship banner, but ran into a juggernaut in Oakdale.

The Mustangs (28-1-1) defeated the Cougars 3-2 in nail-biting first game to force a winner-take-all second game. Oakdale came out swinging, scoring six runs in the first inning on its way to a 12-2 win to capture the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship.

“God, it was a great season,” said Golden Valley coach Ross Cruickshanks, whose team finished with a 28-5 record. “We fell a little bit short. I just tried to remind the girls what a great year we had.”

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The Golden Valley High softball team gathers for a group hug after losing to Oakdale 12-2 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship on Thursday, May 23, 2019 at the Arnaiz Softball Complex in Stockton, Calif. Shawn Jansen Merced Sun-Star

When the Cougars players look back on their chance to win a section championship, they won’t remember much about the second game. It was a blur.

The Mustangs sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning as they hit the ball hard and took advantage of Golden Valley mistakes to plate six runs.

Golden Valley answered back with two runs of its own in the bottom of the first, but that’s all the Cougars would get against Oakdale ace Lexie Webb.

The Fresno State-bound senior turned in a heroic effort over two nights, pitching four games in less than 36 hours to propel the Mustangs (28-1-1) to the title.

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Oakdale pitcher Lexie Webb delivers a pitch during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship game. Oakdale defeated Golden Valley 3-2, 12-2 to win the championship. Shawn Jansen Merced Sun-Star

“She’s one serious athlete. She is the best hitter ever at Oakdale High and she’s one of the best pitchers I’ve ever seen,” Oakdale coach Larry Loger praised. “Fresno State is lucky to get her.”

Webb said adrenaline carried her through the last two days of the tournament.

“I’m really tired,” Webb said. “My arm hurt really bad. My body was worn out. Adrenaline just took over through my body, but this feels great. I’ve been trying to win this four four years and finally my senior year we win it.”

The Mustangs had plenty of contributions up and down the lineup. Brittany Bye collected four hits in the two games, including three doubles and the two-run home run in the fifth inning of the first game that gave Oakdale a 3-2 lead. Bye drove in five runs in the two games.

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Oakdale coach Larry Loger congratulates senior Brittany Bye on a home run during the Mustangs’ 3-2 win over Golden Valley on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Shawn Jansen Merced Sun-Star

Webb had three doubles and a home run in the two games. The Mustangs pounded out 16 hits in the second game.

“It felt like they knew what I was throwing,” said Golden Valley ace Marissa Bertuccio.

The Cougars’ chance to win was in game one.

Freshman Naomi Moore hit a home run off Webb to tie the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first inning. Bertuccio then doubled home a run in the third inning to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead.

It stayed that way until Bye hit an 0-2 pitch over the fence in the fifth inning.

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“That was the big blow,” Cruickshanks said. “(Bertuccio) thought she had the pitch high enough. Oakdale has good hitters. They swing the bats. They were very deserving.”

Even without the blue banner it will be a season Bertuccio always remembers as her high school career comes to an end.

“I’m just glad we had this great season,” she said. “I’ve been on a lot of teams, but this one by far is has been my favorite team. I had a great time every time I was with them. I’m really thankful to make these memories with them.”

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