A two-run homer over the left center field fence – more than 200 feet from home plate – put the cap on a 5-2 victory for Escalon’s varsity softball girls, sealing the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 Softball Championship.
The fifth inning blast came off the bat of freshman catcher Hannah Boyd, giving the Lady Cougars a 5-2 advantage over the Lady Grizzlies of Mariposa County. Arabella Strach, who had just rapped an RBI double to give Escalon a 3-2 lead, came in to score ahead of Boyd, who was mobbed at the plate by her teammates.
The Wednesday game at Arnaiz Softball Complex in Stockton saw Escalon jump out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second but Mariposa answered back with two runs of their own in the top of the third to knot it at 2-2.
Each team managed to get a few more base runners on but neither could break through until Escalon’s game-clinching fifth inning rally.
After pitcher Chardae Hoskins set down the side in order on three consecutive strikeouts in the top of the fifth, the varsity girls came alive offensively.
It was Hoskins who led things off with a single up the middle. Molly Brown stroked a solid shot to right but the fielder was able to get a good jump and make the catch. Strach then ripped the RBI double and Hannah Boyd followed with the home run.
Older sister Haley Boyd then turned in a pair of sparkling catches from her right field position in the top of the sixth to squash the Mariposa rally attempt, charging in to catch a ball that seemed destined to fall in over second base, then ranging far to her right to chase down a deep fly ball to right center field.
Though they had a runner thrown out at the plate on a suicide squeeze bunt play in the bottom of the sixth trying to get one more insurance run, the Lady Cougars made the three-run lead stand. In the top of the seventh, Hoskins struck out the first batter, Brown hauled in a line drive at first base for the second out and a final strikeout from Hoskins started the celebration.
“It was a great win,” said a proud head coach Art Brooks, hoisting the blue banner to cheers and applause from his team. “It was a long season but they came together as a team, just absolutely proud of them.”
Look for additional photos and the full story in the May 31 issue of The Times.