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Split Of Contests For Varsity Softball Girls

Taking their first loss of the Trans-Valley League campaign, it came at a good time for Escalon's varsity softball girls.

The loss, said head coach Dianne Teixeira, brought the girls back down to earth and made them realize they still have to fight their way to the TVL crown, with Hughson dealing them a 5-1 setback on April 28 at home.

"They had two runs in the fourth, three in the fifth," Teixeira said of the visiting Huskies, who are battling for one of the two available TVL playoff spots along with Escalon and Modesto Christian. "It was a combination of hits and errors and Caitlin didn't have a great day that day."

Starting pitcher Caitlin Brooks, a sophomore, has pretty much been lights out for her squad all season. She isn't afraid to have opposing hitters put the ball in play - thanks to a normally sure-handed defense behind her - but has been doing an effective job mowing down hitters via the strikeout for much of the season.

On Tuesday, though, everyone seemed to be a little out of sorts, with Brooks giving up five hits and her teammates committing three errors.

In the fourth, after two outs, Hughson got on the board with a single, a double, a throw to home where the ball beat the runner but popped out of catcher Kattie Schmidig's glove, followed by a hit batter and an error.

Hughson struck again with two outs in the fifth, this time using a walk, a hit, a hit batter, an error, a single, an error and a hit batter to push three more runs across the plate.

Escalon avoided the shutout when Lounette Jackson sent a solo homer over the fence in the bottom of the sixth.

Jackson was 3-for-3 with the home run, Brooks went 2-for-3 and Breanna Brodie notched a hit. Escalon had one run on six hits with three errors. Hughson had five runs on five hits with no errors. Brooks struck out four.

"A lot of people actually commented that it was a good loss," Teixeira said of waking her girls up and getting them hungry again.

They don't like the feeling of losing, she said, and they redoubled their efforts when hosting Riverbank - a team they typically struggle against - on Thursday, April 30. The result was a 7-0 win.

"We started hitting, putting the ball in play," Teixeira said.

Escalon jumped out on the visitors with a three-run first inning, then added two more in the fourth and two in the fifth. Escalon had seven runs, five hits and no errors. Riverbank had no runs, four hits and three errors.

Brooks handcuffed the visiting Lady Bruins, striking out 16 on the day. She also handled the bat well, helping herself offensively with a 3-for-3 afternoon with three doubles and three RBI. She also scored on an error. Rachel Frasier had a single and Kattie Schmidig notched a double for the other team hits. Sam Lorigo knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Thursday's game was the regular season finale at home for the varsity girls, and included recognition of the four seniors on this year's team. Team captains Kattie Schmidig - a three-year varsity player - and Jordon Costa were honored, as were teammates Natalie Rey and Noelle Bellino, all cited for their contributions to the team.

The girls were slated to travel to Modesto Christian for a final meeting with the Crusaders on Tuesday, May 5 after The Times went to press and close out the league season with a game at Ripon on Thursday, May 7. First pitch will be at 4 p.m. and the girls hope to clinch the 2009 TVL softball crown with wins this week. The girls are 12-1 in TVL entering the final two games; 22-2 overall.

"We go to MC and there's always a rivalry there," Teixeira noted. "Plus MC lost to Hughson on Thursday so they'll want to win. We want to battle to stay in that first place position."

Playoffs - with the top two teams in the TVL moving on to the second season - will begin next week.