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Wolverine softball shoots for Big 8 Conference title

By: Scott Johnston and Ray Hacke, Special to Gold Country Media
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The Sierra College softball team has a shot at capturing at least a share of Big 8 Conference title today. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, they’ll need a little more help than they needed before Saturday. Sierra, which was undefeated in conference play before Saturday and has been ranked among the top six teams in Northern California all season, dropped both ends of a doubleheader to top-ranked Sacramento City on Saturday, 5-0 and 5-4. To earn a share of the Big 8 crown, the Wolverines (36-12, 17-2 Big 8) must win twice today in their regular-season finale, a doubleheader at Cosumnes River. Sierra also needs Sac City (36-4, 18-1) to drop one of its two final regular-season games today at Modesto. Regardless of whether it captures the conference crown, Sierra is virtually guaranteed to host a first-round playoff series. The Wolverines will learn their first-round opponent after a seeding meeting Friday at Sierra. After being blanked in Saturday’s first game against Sacramento City, the Wolverines made a game of the second. “They just got one more home run than we did,” Sierra coach Darci Brownell said of the Panthers. Freshman right fielder Karra Leota hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning of the second game and also drove in another run with a double. Sophomore catcher Carli Leary finished the second game 3-for-4 with two singles and a double. Last Tuesday the Wolverines swept a doubleheader from Modesto, 5-4 and 9-0. In game one the Wolverines trailed 3-1 in the fourth before hits from freshman outfielder Megan Renn and Leota started a rally that would eventually net Sierra a victory. Sophomore pitcher Nicole Kociemba picked up the win, striking out 10 batters. In game two the Wolverines’ offense jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the second inning on the way to a rout of the Pirates. Freshman center fielder Jessica Powell, who had two RBIs in game one, started the inning with a home run ahead of five straight singles from Courtney Olow, Colfax High graduate Cortney Jones, Renn, Leota and Kociemba. Hitting for the second time in the inning, Powell doubled to drive in three more runs. The game was called in the 5th inning due to the mercy rule. GOLF The Sierra College men’s golf team moved into first place in the Big 8 Conference following a season-best 369 on Tuesday at Catta Verdera Country Club in Lincoln. The Wolverines’ Austin Fink and Wes Sandroni both carded even-par 72s to pace Sierra’s win at the Big 8 Conference Tournament No. 9. The Wolverines now lead Santa Rosa (394) by seven points in the conference standings. American River (383), Delta (392) and Napa (393) round out the top five. “We have been working hard all season to achieve our goals and it was great to have all the team members come together at such a challenging course,” said Sierra coach Tim Hovancsek. Steve Riley (74), AJ Hasegawa (74), Robbie Bendorf (77) and Gavin Butcher (77) rounded out the scoring for the Wolverines. BASEBALL A recent four-game Big 8 Conference winning streak has pulled the Sierra College baseball team back above .500. Last Thursday the Wolverines knocked off first-place Diablo Valley for the second time in two days, posting an 8-2 win behind a solid eight-inning outing from sophomore right-hander Cameron Ray. Offensively, it was Brian Wright leading the way with five RBIs. Fellow sophomore Kyle Richardson added two hits and two RBIs, and freshman Kyle Saukko had three hits in five at-bats, his 25th multi-hit game of the season. On Tuesday Sierra cruised to a 5-1 win with freshman right-hander Jeremy Cole allowing just one run and five hits in eight innings. Sophomore Logan Lotti drove in three runs with a fourth-inning home run and freshman Keith Jennette went 3-for-3. Sierra will host American River at 2:30 p.m. today.