By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Hitting Lifts Cougars Past Hilmar
After getting shut out on the road Wednesday, the Escalon varsity softball girls were determined not to let that happen on Friday. Instead, they got a thrilling win with a pair of extra base hits late in the game, topping Hilmar.

At Hughson, it was a 7-0 loss for the varsity Lady Cougars on May 2.

"Not as bad as it was the last time," coach Dianne Teixeira said of the final. "They had two runs in the first, two in the third, two in the fourth and one in the sixth."

Escalon again had trouble fielding cleanly, with a damaging seven errors on their side of the scorebook.

"You just can't make that many errors," Teixeira said.

Escalon had no runs with four hits and the seven errors, Hughson had seven runs on eight hits and they had one error.

"They are what we were a few years ago," Teixeira said of Hughson's all around squad, with power hitting and power pitching leading the Huskies to the Trans-Valley League title this season and the number one seed into playoffs.

Ashley Schuurman pitched at Hughson and scattered the hits but was victimized by the play behind her. Collecting the hits for Escalon were Kristin Beckman, 2-for-3, Nicole Bianchi, 1-for-3 and Illiana Cajias, one hit.

Friday, senior Ami Hood was recognized prior to the game, as the only senior on the squad. She has been injured and unable to play this season, but has stayed with the team and been a steady presence on the bench, offering insight and advice to her teammates.

Hosting Hilmar on Friday, the squads battled through five scoreless innings before Hilmar pushed a run across with a couple of back-to-back hits in the top of the sixth. Escalon answered back with four runs in the bottom of the frame to take a 4-1 lead.

Shortstop Beckman reached on an error and came in to score on a Schuurman RBI triple. A walk to Lexis Prim was followed by an out, but then starting pitcher Marissa Dominguez helped her own cause, launching a pitch over the left field fence, clearing the bases and making it a 4-1 Escalon lead.

"She met it well, that was a good hit," Teixeira said of the three-run shot.

But the Lady Cougars gave Hilmar some hope in the top of the seventh, with the Yellowjackets scratching their way back to load the bases with nobody out.

A smash to shortstop saw the sure-handed Beckman firing a strike to catcher Prim for the force out at home for the first out of the inning. Beckman then tracked a foul ball to near the dugout fence, gobbling it up over the glove of third baseman Anastasia Rodriguez, who was also looking for the put out. Beckman held on for out number two. The final out came with a hard smash to third, Rodriguez getting in position in front of the ball and then beating the runner to the bag for the force out, ending the game with a 4-1 victory for the Cougars.

"It was awesome," Teixeira said of the good work by the defense to get three outs without a run scoring in the seventh. "If we limit the amount of errors we make, we do fine.

"Kristin is just a freshman but she is one of the best shortstops in the league and Anastasia has improved so much defensively at third."

The girls also had to fill in a couple of spots, with twins Adalia and Illiana Cajias out for an FFA event. Erica Victorino got the start at second, Amber Brady was in right and Sam Shipley was in left. Shipley tracked down a deep fly ball for a good catch in the sixth to help end the Hilmar threat in that frame and Teixeira said it was a good team win. Madysen Costa, up from the JV team with the twins out, contributed with a hit. Also notching hits were Prim and Rodriguez with singles, Schuurman with the triple and Dominguez with the home run.

Hilmar had four hits and Escalon had five on the day. The girls were scheduled to play a make-up game at Riverbank on Monday, May 7 and will be on the road to close out the regular season on Wednesday, May 9 at Modesto Christian.