It had been nearly five years since the Turlock High varsity softball team defeated Merced and after half a decade of turmoil the Bulldogs ended the streak with a remarkable 4-3 win on Wednesday afternoon.
Before the game started, Merced was ranked 56th in the state. Turlock was ranked 480th.
After taking the 3-2 lead in the third inning, the Merced Bears retaliated by tying the game after the fourth. Ultimately the Bulldogs would force the game into extra innings and capped off the game with a triple by Madison Mayol followed by a sacrifice fly that gave the 'Dogs a one-run lead.
Behind the arm of starter Mariah Gonzalez the 'Dogs closed down the Bears’ bats with a three-up and three-down inning in the bottom half of the eighth and pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year so far in the Central California Conference.
“We played well, good defense and Mariah pitched well also,” said Turlock head coach Jill Ogden. “The girls were excited because it was a big win for the program and they showed they can compete and if they play well then they can beat anybody.”
The last time the Bulldogs had beaten the Bears was on May 13, 2010, by a score of 2-1.
Merced's starting pitcher and UCLA verbal commit Madilyn Nickles struck out 16 of the Turlock batters but even with such a strong performance on the mound the Bulldogs only needed five hits to win it.
The Bears of Merced went up 2-0 after the second inning and what followed was unexpected.
Josephine Costa led off in the top of the third with a single to right field and then Faith Pattee took a 1-2 pitch over the left field fence for a two-run laser off Nickles to tie it at 2-2.
Turlock's Mayol had an RBI fielders choice that drove in Jessie Miranda for the go-ahead run with one out, but Nickles managed to pitch her way out of the jam.
Gonzalez, who finished a complete game, allowed only one walk, three runs and struck out one as she picked up the win.
“She kept their hitters off balance and didn't quit,” Ogden said of Gonzalez.
Finally in the eighth inning, Mayol tripled to right field and Sophie Mayol followed with a sacrifice fly to deep left which scored the game winning run.
“They were kind of cool after the win. They didn't go crazy but it showed they can all do their job and making contact helps,” said Ogden of her team’s reaction after the upset win. “Our goal was to make contact, and we made plays when we needed it, with the triple that was huge and the home-run.”
Turlock, which is now tied with Pitman and Atwater for second in the CCC at 3-2, will host Buhach Colony at 3:30 p.m. Friday.