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Lady Cougars Doing Battle With Softball Opponents
Getting close to the .500 mark, Escalon's varsity softball girls are still in the thick of things, battling for one of the top three spots in league and a chance to go to the playoffs.

The girls won two out of three games in recent play, and are looking for some consistency as they play out the second round in the Trans-Valley League.

"We still have a shot," said coach Dianne Teixeira.

The team did lose standout pitcher and hitter Caitlin Brooks, whose attempt at a mid-season comeback was cut short when she had to have her injured right foot put in a cast. The lingering effects of a basketball season injury proved too great to overcome for the Sacramento State-bound hurler so she will sit out the rest of the season. JV pitcher Marissa Dominguez has now joined the varsity squad and Teixeira said the team is eager to string together some wins as the second half begins.

They were at Riverbank on Tuesday, April 12 and took a 2-0 lead but gave up three runs in the sixth inning to take a 3-2 loss.

Teixeira pointed to a couple of hits, an error and a bad call in the inning, paving the way for the Lady Bruins to take the game.

Escalon had single runs in the first and fourth, with Anastasia Rodriguez driving in Ami Hood (single, stolen base) in the first, Jenessa Costa driving in a run with a ground out in the third after Shelise Hatfield singled and Lexi Prim doubled.

Costa allowed just three hits on the day, struck out four and walked two.

The next two games went in the win column for Escalon, with the Lady Cougars defeating Ripon, 10-7, on Thursday. A nine-run outburst in the sixth carried Escalon to victory.

"We just started hitting well, we got rid of our evil voodoo and it was a contagious thing, pretty much everyone got a hit," said Teixeira.

Big hitters on the day were Rodriguez, 2-for-3 with a double, Prim and Katie Heflin each went 2-for-4. Costa pitched two innings, Dominguez went three innings on the mound.

On Friday, it was a second round match up with Riverbank and this time, Escalon got the better of them, winning 6-3.

The Lady Cougars got two runs in the first, one in the third and three in the fourth.

"I told them not to be satisfied at 2-0," Teixeira said. "We just used better pitch selection, better swings and the girls also stepped up their defense."

Senior Casey Schmidig just missed a grand slam, sending a ball out to the 2006 championship sign in the outfield, she ended up with a bases cleaning three-RBI double in the fourth inning.

Hood was 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI, Rodriguez was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI.

Costa went the first three innings on the mound, Dominguez came in to close it out.

"So we're 3-4 in league, 7-8 overall," Teixeira said, noting that the girls need to stay focused on hitting well and keeping their defense tight during the second half.

Three teams from the Trans-Valley League advance to playoffs this year and Teixeira said the defending Section champions want to be among them.

They will be at Ripon on Wednesday and at Orestimba on Thursday for league games.

Junior Varsity

Only one game for Escalon's JV team this week, facing off with Ripon. The Riverbank Bruins do not have a JV softball team.

Escalon handled their Ripon opponent with ease, however, winning it in five innings with a 10-0 final.

"We didn't score in the first inning but in the second, Honda Hernandez got on with a single, stole second and then Ashley Schuurman hit a home run," said coach Malinda Walker.

The JV squad went on to add two runs in the third, four in the fourth and closed it out with two runs in the fifth to win via the 10-run rule.

"We had a good day defensively," Walker noted. "Haley Yandell was our pitcher, she had four strikeouts but her rise ball was on, she got a lot of pop outs."

Offensively, Illiana Cajias was 3-for-4 with three singles, Hernandez and Schuurman each went 2-for-3.

The JV girls improved to 4-0 in league with the win and are 8-2 overall.

They will also play a pair of league road games this week, following the varsity to Ripon and Orestimba for contests.