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Clutch hits elude Dawgs in softball
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Ceres High's varsity softball team squandered opportunity after opportunity in losing 3-1 to visiting Oakdale Thursday.

The Bulldogs struck out 11 times-four looking-and left 10 runners on base against the Mustangs.

"We weren't aggressive enough at the plate," said Vaneza Hoover, Ceres High's junior cleanup hitter and pitcher. "The strike zone was pretty open and we didn't take advantage. We need to execute more and make sure we get those runners in. We should have played better."

Despite the loss, Ceres High remains in second place in the Valley Oak League at 4-2 along with Sierra. Third-place Oakdale improved to 3-3 in league. First-place Manteca and East Union have identical 5-1 records.

In the bottom of the first inning, Mika Johnson drew a leadoff walk, stole second, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on second baseman Katie Rissetto's fielding error to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.

Oakdale took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning. Heather Snow lined a double to the right-center gap, advanced to third on Rissetto's sacrifice bunt and scored when third baseman Chelsea Lomeli bobbled Monique Galvan's two-out grounder and then threw wide to first.

Five-foot-tall speedster Nicole Henderson, who reached first base after getting hit by a pitch prior to Galvan's at-bat, moved all the way to third on Lomeli's error. She scored moments later on a wild pitch.

The Mustangs added an insurance run in the sixth inning. Ashton Brown got hit by a pitch with one out, moved to second and third on wild pitches, and scored when MacKenzie Taylor laced a triple to right field.

The Bulldogs stranded runners in all but one inning, including two in the first, third, sixth and seventh.

In the third inning, Ceres High's first two batters reached base.

Freshman Ryan Norton singled through the left side of the infield. Lomeli followed with a hit up the middle.

Andrea Lutz, Oakdale's junior pitcher, retired Hoover, Jode Johnson and Cassie Rayford via strikeout to end the threat.

"I thought we were going to come back, but it didn't happen," Hoover said. "We should have played more aggressive like we did in the East Union game. We wanted it so bad and we got it."

Ceres High upset 2007 Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV runner-up and VOL champion East Union 1-0 at Northgate Complex on April 3.