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Teamwork Carries Lady Cougars To Share Of League Title
There's a sign that's been hanging in the third base dugout of the Escalon varsity softball team throughout the season.

Six words greet the girls before every practice, before every home game.

Dream It. Pursue It. Achieve It.

It's a formula the girls used to grab a piece of the Trans-Valley League title, holding off Modesto Christian 1-0 on Friday in the regular season finale to share the crown with the Crusaders. Both teams finished the TVL campaign at 12-3 but Escalon, by virtue of beating MC two out of three times, gets the top seed from the TVL for the playoffs.

It was a thrilling roller coaster ride on Friday, with the innings about as clean as could be through the first three. Three up ... three down. An occasional sharply hit ball but nothing to show for it by either side, thanks to some solid defense and pitchers that kept the hitters off balance.

"I knew it would come down to a close game," varsity head coach Dianne Teixeira said.

Each side had just three hits on the day; each pitcher struck out six and issued no walks. Modesto Christian left four runners on base, Escalon left two.

MC had a runner on third in the fourth inning but stranded her there and the Lady Cougars scratched out a single run in their half of that frame to take the lead.

Audree Mendez laced a single to lead off the fourth and after a pop up for an out on a bunt attempt, the next Escalon hitter struck out, leaving Mendez still at first with two down. Lefty Jordon Costa came up and battled, getting hold of an outside pitch and driving it to left center. Mendez, off with the crack of the bat, came all the way around to score and Costa had the RBI double, with what proved to be the winning run.

Freshman pitcher Caitlin Brooks had things under control in the fast-moving game, with the girls reaching the seventh inning in just under an hour. With the 1-0 lead, the Lady Cougars just needed to close it out.

But that was easier said than done.

"That seventh inning, they started the bobbles," Teixeira said. "There was a hit up the middle, Caitlin got her glove on it but that tipped it and (second baseman) Casey Schmidig got it but there was no play."

That put one runner on and a hit and another bobble, by shortstop Lounette Jackson, left the bases loaded with nobody out.

"I called a time out," Teixeira said of going to the mound to settle things down.

But, she admitted, she had that sinking 'here we go again' feeling when she saw her team start to unravel. Jackson's philosophy, however, proved to be the key for the girls.