Tuesday at home against Hughson, the varsity Lady Cougars took a nail-biting 2-1 win off the softball diamond while Thursday, they went on the road and doubled up Hilmar by an 8-4 final.
In the March 28 game with the Lady Huskies, Escalon got a complete game from Chardae Hoskins, who struck out 11, walked four and gave up just three hits in seven innings of work.
Hughson did strike first, with a walk to the leadoff hitter in the game. A strikeout and ground out followed, then a walk, a hit batter and another walk to get the run across the plate.
“Chardae started off slow,” agreed head coach Art Brooks.
After that rocky first inning, though, she was nearly untouchable.
“She went on auto pilot the rest of the game,” Brooks said. “We had two runs on 10 hits, everybody in the line-up got on base.”
After giving up the early run, Escalon got it back in the bottom of the first. With two outs, Hoskins helped her own cause with a double, then Molly Brown singled to drive her in, knotting the score at 1-1.
In the sixth, the host Lady Cougars got the go ahead run.
“Chardae singled and after one out, Arabella Strach singled, Hailie Webster singled and that loaded the bases,” noted Brooks. “Hannah Boyd then hit a sacrifice fly for the RBI.”
Notching two hits apiece in the 2-1 win were Hoskins and Strach, while Mackenzie and Ashley Duval each had a hit, Haley Boyd added a hit, Hannah Boyd had a double and Brown had the RBI single.
“It was a good game, a close one,” Brooks said.
The girls were on the road Thursday, March 30 and got the win against Hilmar.
“We scored two runs in the first, two in the fifth and four in the seventh,” Brooks said.
Hilmar countered with a run in the second, two in the third and one in the fourth.
Molly Brown got the start but struggled, going just two-and-two-thirds innings. She struck out five, walked four and allowed two hits. Hoskins came on with two outs in the third and finished up, going four-and-a-third, allowing two hits, four walks and striking out four in picking up her second win of the week.
Host Hilmar had a 4-2 lead after four innings but Escalon didn’t panic, working to get runners on base and getting the game tied, then taking the lead with the four-run outburst in their final at bat.
In the first, when Escalon took a 2-0 lead, Mackenzie Duval got things started with a hit, Hoskins followed with a hit and Strach had a two-RBI double. For the game, Strach was 2-for-4 with three runs batted in; Hoskins was 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs. Mackenzie Duval was 2-for-4 with a double, Morgan Reider added a bunt base hit.
Action for the Lady Cougars this week was scheduled early, with a make-up game against Ripon on Monday, April 3 and a game against Modesto Christian scheduled on Tuesday, April 4; the games played after press time for The Times. They have a league bye on Thursday, April 6 and return to action on Tuesday, April 11 when they go on the road to Riverbank.
In their first two Trans-Valley League games of the season, the young Lady Cougars and coach Malinda Walker earned a split, winning at home against Hughson on March 28, falling on the road to Hilmar on March 30.
They were 17-4 winners over the visiting Lady Huskies on Tuesday, roaring out to a fast start with 12 runs in the first. They added two more in the second and two in the third for an insurmountable 16-0 lead. Hughson battled back to get two on the scoreboard in the fourth inning, Escalon pushed one across in the bottom of the frame to make it 17-2. Two runs by Hughson in the fifth made it 17-4 but that’s as close as they could get, Escalon taking the run-shortened victory in five innings.
On the road Thursday, the JV girls started strong with two runs in the first inning but Hilmar answered with one of their own in that frame. The host team scored five in the second, two each in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Escalon got two runs in the top of the seventh but Hilmar got the big win, 14-4.
With just a handful of schools with JV teams in league this season, the young Lady Cougars were scheduled to play only the make-up game with Ripon on Monday this week.