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Roseville, DeMello roll on, stun D-II favorite Oak Ridge

Three-hitter, Wagner-Davis long ball carry Tigers
By: Brett Ransford, Press Tribune Correspondent
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The streak continues for Roseville High pitching. The Tigers upset Oak Ridge 3-1 Saturday afternoon at the Sacramento Softball Complex in the semifinal round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs. Back in the circle for Roseville was freshman ace Delany DeMello. In seven innings of work she allowed just three hits and one run while striking out seven batters. The Trojans walked in unprepared for a hungry Tiger team coming off a 10-0 beating on McClatchy. The matchup couldn’t have been planned any better featuring two of the areas hottest pitchers in DeMello and Oak Ridge junior starter Kasey Stanchek. Comparatively, Stanchek didn’t have a bad outing against Roseville throwing all seven innings with five strikeouts and no walks. The difference was an unearned run on an infield throwing error in the fourth and two-run home run in the fifth. In her first two playoff games, DeMello has 22 strikeouts and has allowed just three hits in 13 innings of work. Facing an undefeated regular season monster in Oak Ridge the breakout pitcher said she was nervous at the start, but settled in quickly. “At the beginning I was frustrated and I knew I had to get ahead in the count,” DeMello said. “As soon as we scored some runs it was a lot different and I knew I was comfortable. I saw all the stats on Oak Ridge beforehand, but I’m really glad we beat them. I’m feeling great. I feel that we could go all the way.” Doing her part to get Roseville a game closer to a section title was senior outfielder Emily Wagner-Davis. Gripping a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning Wagner-Davis also gripped and ripped a two-run homer over the left-centerfield fence putting her team up 3-0. “We were all really nervous about this game because we heard how good Oak Ridge was, but we pulled it together like a team does,” Wagner-Davis said. “I wasn’t doing so well on my other two at-bats before, but I focused in on [Stanchek’s] hips and where she released it and hit my second home run, ever. When I was halfway between first and second I stopped running and realized it was a home run.” Wagner-Davis said her team feels very confident about their recent postseason play, giving up just one run in two games on top of DeMello’s outstanding growth and command. “We beat the team that was supposed to win it and proved that we are better,” Wagner-Davis said. “In the beginning we weren’t looked at by anyone as competition and now we’re turning heads.” Roseville scored the first run of the game on Jaycie Speck’s bunt causing two errors in the fourth. Jenessa Jeppesen blasted a lead off solo home run for her team’s only run in the fifth. There was hardly a rally after as DeMello struck out the next batter, forced a groundout and made one of many positional fielding outs on the mound to end the inning. Of her team’s ability to add run support in a tight game through four innings Roseville Head Coach Jennifer Birch felt no pressure. “We’re just going out there, playing our game and seeing what happens,” Birch said. “We were loose and Delany is getting better with every pitch. That’s what I love most win, lose or draw, is to see my players grow. Honest, there’s no strategy. It’s just us doing what we’ve done all year and seeing what happens.” Oak Ridge Head Coach Marc Bentojova said his team didn’t lose the game, but instead was beat by a more aggressive and on-point Tiger lineup. The Trojans took an especially long meeting that seemed rather somber in closing. “We’re not too happy at the moment, but at the same time very determined to come back on Tuesday,” Stanchek said. “It was definitely not one of my best games, but I was pretty confident that my girls were going to come back and hit. Roseville has some pretty good hitters so if there’s a next time we’ll have to come out stronger.” Bentojova added that the idea of playing for a fourth consecutive section title is like the cherry on a sundae, only the sundae hasn’t been made yet. “We tip our hats to Roseville today. They were the best team on the field and beat us in every facet of the game,” Bentojova said. “They banged the ball around on us like no one has all year long. The good news is that it happened tonight and not last night. I have all the confidence that our kids will bounce back. We can’t take it one game at a time, we have to take it one at-bat at a time and that’s one thing we’re not doing.” The coach also added that his team has to go the long route to recover from their first loss in a double-elimination bracket. He said at some point there will be a light at the end of the tunnel following this loss and hopefully it comes in the form of bouncing back. Roseville moves on to play Cordova next in the quarterfinals as the Tigers try to represent the Sierra Foothill League well in a bracket that includes three Sierra Valley Conference squads. Cordova beat Ponderosa 3-0, upsetting their league rival. They hold a league record of 7-5 and overall record of 16-8. The Tigers and Lancers meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Sacramento Sports Complex. The Trojans are still alive to face an elimination game in the double-elimination tourney. They face Ponderosa at 5 p.m. Tuesday, with the winner moving on to face the loser of the Roseville/Cordova contest later that night at 7 p.m. in another elimination game. The championship will be decided Wednesday night at the Sacramento Softball Complex.