Mary Jo Truesdale has been coaching high school softball for more than 30 years.
But she has never quite seen a team like this season's Sheldon bunch.
The Huskies confounded her as they sputtered throughout the regular season. Then they wound up finding a special place in her heart.
Sheldon, completing one of the Sac-Joaquin Section's most impropable playoff runs, beat Ponderosa 8-1 for its second consecutive Division I title Wednesday at the Sacramento Softball Complex.
Ponderosa (22-9) defeated Sheldon (21-9) twice in winning the Delta River League, and the Bruins also deserved a thank you from the Huskies. They enabled Sheldon to back into the playoffs as a No. 3 seed by beating St. Francis 1-0 on the last day of the regular season after the Huskies had lost 4-2 to Pleasant Grove.
Sheldon went 6-0 in the postseason. In their last five games, the Huskies outscored their opponents 70-6 and had 81 hits. They had 11 hits against Ponderosa, led by senior catcher MeShalon Moore's 4-for-4 performance, including a towering home run in the third inning.
Sheldon senior pitcher Alexis Cooper scattered four hits as the Huskies captured their fifth section championship.
"We've never had a season as full of so many episodes of ups and downs - it's remarkable," Truesdale said. "We knew this team was a talented group, but during the season things didn't always click. But once we got to the playoffs, they really connected as a team and offensively they kept feeding off each other.
"This team definitely has a special place. It will leave good memories with me."
In other divisional championship games:
Woodcreek 3, Del Campo 2 - With her team down to its last out and trailing 2-0, Jenna Curtan hit a two-run single, then Christal Vierra blooped a single over short to complete the Timberwolves' dramatic rally over the scrappy Cougars (16-9-1) in the D-II championship game.
Curtan's hit barely eluded the Del Campo first baseman, and Vierra's pop-up bounced off the glove of a backpedaling Cougars shortstop. Curtan, a sophomore outfielder who led the Timberwolves (26-4) with three hits, set up the winning run by stealing second and then hustled home on Vierra's hit.
"Little Jenna has really played her heart out," Woodcreek coach Art Banks said of Curtan, a .400 hitter. "She's been on the fire at the plate. And she has all kinds of speed, so it's hard to get her out."
Bear River 9, Whitney 3 - Despite the flu, senior shortstop Stephanie Ceo hit two home runs, including a grand slam, to send veteran Bruins coach Duane Zauner into retirement on a high note in the Division III final against the Wildcats (20-12).
"It's going to be hard to leave - but it's time for Z to go," said Zauner, who has coached at Bear River since the school opened in 1986, including the last 18 as softball coach. "I'm really proud of these girls. We started the season 1-4, but they didn't panic, and they didn't quit. They got the momentum and kept it going."
It was Bear River's fifth section title in six years. The Bruins (20-6-2) won four consecutive D-IV titles from 2007 to 2010 before realignment moved them up a division.