High School Sports

Big inning propels Mariposa to Sac-Joaquin Section softball three-peat

The Mariposa players celebrate their third straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI title on Saturday afternoon. Saturday, May 21, 2016 in Stockton.
The Mariposa players celebrate their third straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI title on Saturday afternoon. Saturday, May 21, 2016 in Stockton. slynch@mercedsunstar.com

Complacency is almost always the enemy of success.

While winning is a problem most coaches would love to have, it’s not always easy to keep the competitive juices flowing when a team strings together championship seasons.

Even on the heels of back-to-back Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI titles, Mariposa softball coach Tony Williams hasn’t worried about it for a minute this season. If anything, the addition of five freshman starters left the Grizzlies hungrier.

It showed in the postseason. Mariposa outscored its three playoff opponents 35-1. The Grizzlies capped the performance with a 9-1 victory over Millennium of Tracy at the Arnaiz Softball Complex on Saturday afternoon to win a third consecutive blue banner.

It’s Mariposa’s sixth title overall and its fourth in five years. With nine players returning next year, including six underclassmen, that run may be extending for years to come.

“All the credit goes to the girls. This group was just amazing,” Williams said. “They came ready to play from Day One and worked their butts off.

“The section title has been the goal the whole time, and you could see how much they wanted it.”

Millennium entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed after posting a school-record 26-1 campaign, but the second-seeded Grizzlies made sure they didn’t have much of a chance at No. 27.

Violet Matlock put Mariposa (24-2-1) in front right away, singling home Leah Lafata in the top of the first inning. It was the start of a monster afternoon for the sophomore first baseman.

Matlock started the Grizzlies’ decisive seven-run fourth with a leadoff walk. With one out, Mariposa ran off six straight hits. Matlock (2 for 2, four RBIs) finished the big inning with a two-run single to make it 8-0.

“I didn’t envision the game going quite like that. You don’t really expect to score 11 runs in a championship game, but I did have a very good vibe coming in,” Matlock said. “We’ve done a great job all season of keeping things light and positive.

“One of the keys for us all season was to have a big inning like that and then just shut them down and never allow the other team back in the game. We did a great job of that today.”

The Falcons knew they were fighting an uphill battle as Lafata (15-0) entered the game having tossed three consecutive shutouts and yielded three or more runs in a game just three times this season.

The junior ace didn’t allow Millennium to build any momentum, scattering six hits. Her scoreless-inning streak ended in the sixth on an unearned run, but that would be it for the Falcons.

If the Grizzlies are going to make it a fourth straight title in 2017, they’ll do it in Division V, getting bumped up as a result of their recent dominance.

“We always schedule up in the preseason, and the girls love the challenge of taking on bigger and better schools,” Williams said. “It’s something that I think has ultimately helped us when we’ve gotten into the postseason. I think they’re looking forward to the competition of Division V and won’t be surprised if they compete there, too.”

Sean Lynch: 209-385-2476, @MSSsports