Thursday’s preseason softball contest between Turlock and Pacheco High had all the makings of a playoff game.
Both sides met for an intriguing pre-league matchup that boiled down to dominating pitching and limited offense for the two.
For Turlock, it was an opportunity to continue their early success and put it to the test against last year’s Western Athletic Conference co-champions in Pacheco. They stood strong and fought hard till the end, even after the game extended into extra innings, but it was called due to lighting limitations.
Only seven hits were accumulated in a 10-inning span by both teams which included nine shutout innings but by the end of the game only one run had been tacked on by each side to make it 1-1.
“We are proud of them even though we came out a bit flat in the first few innings, but then we realized the game would be really tight and they did a good job coming back for the tie,” said Turlock head coach Jill Ogden.
Turlock is now 4-0-1 to begin the year and Pacheco moves to 2-2-1.
Senior Mariah Gonzalez started the game for Turlock and allowed just two hits after tossing five scoreless innings.
Gonzalez got out of a jam in the third inning when she had a runner in scoring position but managed to fight her way out of it.
Then freshman Shelby Frutoz came in to relieve Gonzalez and followed up with five strong innings as she allowed no hits and struck out nine. She also drove in the game-tying run in the 10th inning.
“We have spoken about our pitching staff with Mariah and Shelby, we have a great one-two punch and we tried to split their playing time fairly,” said Ogden. “They both pitched well and hit their spots, they just dominated.”
Combined, the duo allowed just two hits.
Pacheco’s starting pitcher Autumn Randles was also a standout player for the game after pitching all 10 innings and allowing just one run on five hits.
Turlock went on to nearly capitalize on opportunities but they failed to do so, leaving 12 runners left on base for the game.
They also struck out 14 times.
“I think it definitely needs to be mentioned,” said Ogden of the offensive woes. “We talked about it and spoke about plate discipline and we swung at pitches that were outside of the strike zone but it worked out to at least get the tie.”
Frutoz went 2-for-5 with an RBI and Tyra Hampton was 3-for-4 for the game.
Pacheco’s only run was scored by Samantha Jacquez who came in the top of the 10th after the run-rule went into effect after the ninth inning.
With a runner at second base and no outs, Pacheco was able to squeeze Jacquez to home on a sac-bunt RBI and down 1-0; Turlock had just one last chance to at least tie the game.
Madi Mayol started the bottom of the inning at second and her younger sister Sophie Mayol got on base to put both on with zero outs.
Frutoz then stepped up to the plate and delivered a shot to the left center gap, scoring Madi for the tying run to make it 1-1.
Kelly Weber followed up with a walk and loaded up the bases but Randle was able to pitch out of the jam as the game ended as a stalemate.
“We are young in age, but our three sophomore returning varsity players don’t play young,” said Ogden. “They play like they are seasoned varsity players... I don’t think they ever feel out of a game, they always think something is going to happen or someone will get a hit. I think they did a really good job.”
Turlock’s next game will be on the road against Clovis East at 5:30 p.m. Friday.