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League Split Leaves Varsity Softball On Playoff Bubble
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Escalons Anastasia Rodriguez puts the tag on Riverbanks Olivia Luu on April 16. IKE DODSON/THE TIMES

A win at home was followed by a loss on the road, as the varsity Lady Cougars are still trying to nail down a softball postseason spot. They would have helped their chances dramatically with a victory at Ripon but failed to stop the host Indians from getting the win.

They started the week with a revenge decision over Riverbank, after coughing up the lead and allowing the Lady Bruins to take their first meeting, an extra inning contest in Riverbank. This time, it was another nailbiter but Escalon held on for the 3-2 victory.

“If we could just get rid of the seventh inning, we would be undefeated in league,” coach Art Brooks said, half-jokingly.

The final at bat for their opponent has been where Escalon has struggled the most this season, and though they made it interesting once again, they did get the final out they needed.

“Riverbank got two runs in the third, we got one in the third and two in the fifth,” Brooks explained.

In the top of the seventh, with Escalon holding the one-run lead, Riverbank threatened, getting a runner to third with one out before winning pitcher Marissa Dominguez struck out the next hitter and then got the final batter to hit one to centerfield, where Nicole Bianchi tracked it down in the swirling winds to put it away for the victory.

“Marissa had 10 strikeouts, allowed just two hits and one walk,” Brooks said of another dominating performance by the senior.

Offensively, Lexi Prim was 2-for-3 with a pair of runs batted in while Illiana Cajias was 3-for-3 and Erica Victorino was 2-for-2. Ashley Schuurman had a sacrifice fly to drive in Bianchi for the third run of the game.

At Ripon on Thursday, the varsity girls came up short, falling by a 6-2 decision.

“Ripon scored one in the second and two in the third,” Brooks said.

His team made a comeback in the top of the sixth, scoring two runs to get within a single tally, 3-2.

“We got a leadoff single from Maddy Costa then Lexi singled and we got a two-RBI double from Anastasia Rodriguez,” Brooks said. “We made it a game.

“Then in the bottom of the sixth, everything fell apart.”

Ripon pushed three runs across in the bottom of that frame, aided by some Escalon errors. Dominguez got the start and took the loss.

“She did a good job pitching and she’s done everything she can to keep her team in the game,” Brooks said. “It was sloppy defense on our part.”

Dominguez struck out the first three hitters she faced and notched 11 strikeouts for the game. She scattered nine hits and allowed three walks but was more hurt by five errors the Lady Cougar committed on the day.

Bianchi was 2-for-3 to lead the team at the plate, Prim, Honda Hernandez, Rodriguez and Costa all collected hits as well.

“League wise, we are 4-4 and we really needed that one, then we would have been tied for third,” Brookes said of needing to win at Ripon.

The girls can still get in the playoffs but need to get on a roll and look to some other teams to help them out as well.

They were scheduled to play at Orestimba on Tuesday, after The Times went to press and host Hughson on Thursday.