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Lady Cougars Look To Nail Down Section Crown
bella ptich
Senior Bella Strach winds up in earlier season action, with Sage Davis getting into fielding position at first base. Strach got three wins this past week in Section play while Davis drove in five runs in a win over Amador and three more in a win against Waterford. Marg Jackson/The Times

Kicking off the second season with an 8-0 win over Amador, the Escalon Lady Cougars have played their way into the championship game of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V bracket.

Escalon hosted Amador in the ‘play in’ game on Monday, May 13 and jumped on top of the visitors with a four-run bottom of the first.

“Sage Davis went 3-for-4, she had a triple and five RBI,” said head coach Art Brooks.

Bella Strach got the start in the circle and allowed just two hits while striking out 11. She did issue six walks but Amador was not able to cash any of them in, held off the scoreboard.

Along with four runs in the first, the Lady Cougars scored three in the fifth and one in the sixth for the 8-0 final.

Also notching hits in the victory were Malia Babasa, Hailie Webster, Hannah Boyd, Leticia Gutierrez and Ariel Astabie while Strach went 2-for-4 to help her own cause.

“Then we got rained out Wednesday and Thursday but we were able to play two games on Friday,” Brooks said.

Those contests were played at Arnaiz and Brooks said they did a good job in getting the fields ready for action considering the amount of rain that got dumped on the region the prior two days.

They started the day off with an overwhelming 11-1 win over Waterford, with the big inning coming in the third, as the Lady Cougars pushed eight runs across the plate in that frame. The game went just five innings.

Again it was Strach on the mound, this time allowing four walks and two hits while striking out eight.

“We had seven stolen bases as a group in this one,” Brooks noted. “Lexy Underwood, Bella and Sage had two hits each, Sage had three RBI.”

Webster and Marissa Gonzalez each added a hit as well.

Escalon scored eight in the third, two in the fourth and one in the fifth. Waterford’s lone run came in the fifth inning.

Friday night, it was a tight contest against Linden, with Escalon prevailing in a 3-2 nailbiter.

“It was high energy, a really good game, it was well played on both sides,” Brooks explained.

Linden took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first but Escalon answered back with two runs in the bottom of the frame to lead it 2-1. They added another run in the third for a 3-1 lead, then had to hold off a Linden rally in the top of the seventh to get the win.

A walk put Linden’s leadoff runner on in the seventh, followed by a strikeout and then a single. A double drove in a run to cut the deficit to 3-2 and put Linden in a good position, with runners on second and third with just one out. Strach was able to bear down and notch a crucial strikeout, then got the next batter to ground the ball up the first base line, where Sage Davis got the unassisted put out.

Strach had 12 strikeouts on the day and issued eight walks.

Monday’s scheduled game between Waterford and Linden – to determine which team would advance to the finals to take on Escalon – was postponed, rescheduled for Tuesday, May 21 at 5 p.m., weather permitting. The championship game, also weather permitting, was rescheduled for a 7:15 p.m. start Tuesday, after The Times went to press.

Escalon, undefeated in the tournament, will need just one win for the Section crown while Linden or Waterford, whichever team advances, would need to beat the Lady Cougars two times to get the title.