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Lady Cougars Split Games With Hughson
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The game plan changed and Escalon's varsity girls got the win they needed against Hughson on Tuesday...but then had to play another game for the right to move on to the playoffs. Hughson had the Lady Cougars' number in that second contest and it was the Huskies that headed to the postseason while Escalon closed out play.

"We won the first game, 2-0, then lost the tiebreaker 7-0," explained coach Dianne Teixeira.

Initially, it was believed that if the host Escalon squad won their game over Hughson by two runs or more, they would go on as the number two seed in the Trans-Valley League. But league officials ruled the teams would have to play another game, a tiebreaker, if Escalon won the first head-to-head meeting.

"Mark Loureiro (Escalon athletic director) had called me and said we could play a doubleheader on Tuesday or play Wednesday in Ripon or Riverbank," Teixeira said of a tiebreaker. "We figured we would play two on our home field, the whole team was OK with that."

In the opener, Escalon scored both of its runs in the sixth inning.

Amber Wood got on with a walk and moved to second on an error. She came in to score on a triple by Melissa Nickas, then Nickas scored on an RBI single by Mandy San Julian.

Escalon had two runs on just two hits and one error, Hughson had no runs on two hits and one error.

"Nicky Brown pitched, she had 11 strikeouts," Teixeira said.

Brown turned around the also pitched the second game, the teams taking the field for the sudden death contest after a brief break in between.

"They had a solid hit that scored two runs, some came in on errors," Teixeira noted of Hughson's seven-run win in game two.

The visitors scored two runs in the first, four in the second and one in the fourth, collecting six hits. Escalon had just two hits in the game and committed five errors.

"There was a double, an error, a ball we should have caught, a walk," said Teixeira. "It became kind of a domino effect."

Shannon Krein had the only extra base hit of the game for Escalon, a double, while Amanda Ainsworth added the other hit, a single.

The Lady Cougars finished the season just one win short of their goal of going to the playoffs but did compile an 11-4 record in league play, 21-6 overall.

"We'll lose four seniors and we'll have to look for new team leaders," Teixeira said.

Honored in pre-game ceremonies Tuesday were Nicky Brown, Missy Cullum, Melissa Nickas and Amber Wood.

Brown has handled the bulk of the pitching duties for the squad for the past couple of years, Cullum and Nickas have anchored the left side of the infield for three years and Wood has served as one of the team's most inspirational players.

"That's what the underclassmen said they'll miss the most, the leadership," Teixeira said.

Three of the seniors, Brown, Cullum and Nickas, will play together one more time, all selected for the South team in the annual North-South All-Star Game set for June 18 at Delta College in Stockton. Teixeira will be one of the coaches for the South squad and the game is scheduled for 4 p.m.

And even though the girls were denied the chance to continue on into the postseason, Teixeira - in her first year as head coach - said she was proud of the way her team battled throughout the year.

"They went down fighting," she said.