Skip to main content

Gridley Herald

Gridley varsity softball team snaps lengthy playoff drought

May 18, 2022 12:00AM ● By By Shaun Holkko, sports editor

The Gridley High School varsity softball team poses for a photo after defeating Oroville 2-1 in the regular season finale and clinching a spot in the playoffs for the first time in nearly 20 years. Photo courtesy of Tammy Carr

Bulldogs clinch playoff berth with ‘dramatic’ win over Oroville

WHEATLAND, CA (MPG) – The Gridley High School varsity softball team came into its last game of the regular season on May 12 needing a win to advance to the playoff for the first time in nearly 20 years.

The Bulldogs (11-12, 6-6 Butte View League) hosted their Butte View rival, the Oroville Tigers (13-13, 4-8) on Thursday afternoon. In a do-or-die game, Gridley narrowly prevailed 2-1.

Oroville scored its only run of the contest in the top of the first inning on an RBI double. The Bulldogs tied it up in the bottom of the fourth when captain Ana Williams hit an RBI triple. The junior infielder contributed on defense as well, converting all eight put out chances without an error.

In what Gridley assistant coach Tammy Carr called “dramatic fashion,” the Bulldogs won the game in the bottom of the seventh inning. With a 3-2 count, junior first baseman Ella Sannar hit a single that ultimately scored the game winning run. With the win, Gridley walked it off into the playoffs.

RELATED: 'Cristian Pache’s biggest fan' for life

Junior captain Gracie Dunning led the way offensively for the Bulldogs, recording three stolen bases, two hits and one run scored in three at bats. Gridley junior pitcher Emry Egan earned the win on the mound by a tossing a complete game, pitching seven innings and allowing six hits, two walks and one earned run with four strikeouts on 85 pitches.

The Bulldogs began the postseason on Tuesday, May 17, as the No. 7 seed with a neutral site game at Wheatland against No. 10 Colusa (14-16, 8-6 Sacramento Valley). Gridley appeared to take control early, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first inning.

However, the RedHawks retaliated with one run in the top of the second inning and four in the third to take the lead. In what was a back-and-forth affair, the Bulldogs responded with two runs in the bottom half of the third to retake the lead at 6-5.

Unfortunately for Gridley, Colusa’s onslaught of scoring would continue, as the RedHawks scored four runs in the fifth and three in the sixth to put the game out of reach. The Bulldogs scored once in the bottom of the seventh, but it was all for naught as Colusa won 12-7, ending Gridley’s season. The RedHawks were eliminated in the quarterfinals following an 8-0 loss to No. 2 seed Wheatland (26-3, 10-2 BVL).

RELATED: Bulldogs’ season ends with postseason loss

Senior outfielder Jenna Villapania had a great day at the plate in her last game for the Bulldogs, reaching base in each of her plate appearances. Villapania tallied two hits (one double) and two stolen bases in the win. Junior shortstop Kennison Cota was the only other Gridley player to have multiple hits. Egan took the loss for the Bulldogs on the bump. The junior pitcher pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up 19 hits, 12 runs (11 earned) and one walk with three Ks on 105 pitches.

The final game of the regular season coincided with Senior Night, as the community celebrated the contributions of outfielders Villapania and Ashlyn Mendenhall. The starting lineup for the Bulldogs is heavy on juniors with seven along with one freshman and one senior. Therefore, most of the team will be returning next season.

Gridley head coach Ron Carr and assistant coach Tammy Carr are “excited for what the future holds,” following a memorable season that snapped the Bulldogs’ playoff drought.