With a new coach at the helm this year, the Escalon varsity Lady Cougars have already had a couple of contests, playing at home and on the road. Art Brooks has taken over the coaching duties, after the resignation of longtime coach Dianne Teixeira following last season. Brooks has been involved with travel softball for a number of years and said Teixeira contacted him to suggest he apply for the EHS coaching position. His daughter, Caitlin Brooks, was a standout pitcher for the Lady Cougars and now attends and pitches for Sacramento State.
The Escalon varsity girls were in action first on the road, traveling to East Union on Monday, Feb. 25. The game was an 8-3 loss.
“Starting pitcher was Marissa Dominguez, she threw three innings and was working hard,” Brooks said. “Ashley Schuurman threw the last two, the game was called because of darkness.”
Dominguez had five strikeouts, scattered five hits and issued three walks.
“Her defense wasn’t as sharp as it should have been,” Brooks admitted.
But, he added, the East Union players also had difficulty handling the routine plays.
“We scored our runs, just as ugly,” he said. “We only mustered up two hits, they were not even part of the rally, we got a lot of walks and hit batsmen.”
Schuurman had a double and Madysen Costa singled for Escalon’s only two hits.
“Wednesday at home against Livingston, we won 9-2, it was a different story,” Brooks said.
Schuurman threw a complete game, striking out eight, walking three and scattering five hits.
“She did a really good job, mixing her pitches, hitting her spots, showed a lot of confidence,” noted Brooks. “And for us, the hits, they just kept on coming.”
Leading the offensive onslaught was Kristin Beckman, 2-for-3 with a double, triple and two RBI; Adalia Cajias, 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBI and Costa, 2-for-3 with a single and a double. Honda Hernandez went 2-for-3, Schuurman had an RBI and Anastasia Rodriguez was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
“This is a great group of girls, they have a lot of talent,” Brooks said.
A major goal this season is getting into the playoffs, with three Trans-Valley League teams getting berths this year. Brooks said the squad is focusing right now on working and playing together as a team, limiting the errors in the field and providing solid support for the pitchers. He said it is a good hitting team, with some power, but they need to improve defensively to go along with the offense.
“They are good athletes and there is no shortage of offense,” Brooks said. “It’s just that the defense needs to come together.”
Seniors on the team are the Cajias twins, Adalia and Illiana, Marissa Dominguez, Anastasia Rodriguez, Erica Victorino and Nicole Bianchi. Juniors Alexis Prim and Schuurman are back with the varsity and other juniors making the move to the upper level include Madysen Costa, Honda Hernandez, Haley Yandell and Kymberly Tompson. Sophomore Kristin Beckman rounds out the squad. Dominguez and junior Schuurman will see much of the action from the pitcher’s circle, with Haley Yandell and Honda Hernandez also capable of throwing some innings for the squad.
Brooks said he is looking forward to the season.
“I would like to give back, softball has always been good to our family, and I love the game,” he said.
Working with him this season as assistant coach is Carlos Lorigo, who has worked with him on travel ball teams.
“They’re very versatile,” Brooks added of the varsity players. “We’re still trying to get them locked down into a position, we have many that are able to play multiple positions.”
The girls travel this week to play in the Jackson Tournament, scheduled to kick off the tourney with a Friday afternoon game, March 8, vs. Cordova.