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Varsity Girls Claim Section Softball Championship
Culminating their season with a mixture of smiles and tears, Escalon's varsity Lady Cougars proudly hoisted the coveted blue banner on Saturday, May 16 signifying their place as the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V softball champions.

"It was a long road but we did it," said a happy but exhausted coach Dianne Teixeira, whose team started the title run with a win over Linden on Wednesday. They topped Patterson in their second game on Wednesday, defeated Calaveras on Friday night, then lost to Patterson in the opener on Saturday, coming back to put away the Tigers in game two on Saturday for the Section crown.

"That first game, you have to win or you're out," Teixeira said of her team being upbeat for the opener, taking on Linden at Arnaiz Field in Stockton on May 13. It was a 6-2 win for Escalon.

Two runs scored in the first, with a walk to Lounette Jackson followed by an RBI double from Caitlin Brooks. Kattie Schmidig then singled to drive Brooks home.

One more run in the fourth made it 3-0, Jordon Costa reaching on a single, followed by an error, then an RBI double from Morgan Eisenga.

"In the sixth we got three more runs," Teixeira said of taking a commanding 6-0 lead late in the game.

Sam Lorigo singled, an error followed, Rachel Frasier brought in a run with a single and Jackson then doubled in two more.

Linden got two runs in the seventh but fell short, the Lady Cougars taking the game. Brooks had eight strikeouts and walked two.

Escalon had six runs on 11 hits with two errors. Linden had two runs on four hits with two errors.

The win in the 5 p.m. contest on Wednesday put the Lady Cougars into the next round, where they faced off with Patterson. It was a 2-0 win there.

"Both runs came in the sixth," said Teixeira. "Casey Schmidig doubled, Rachel singled and Miss Caitlin (Brooks) doubled for two RBI."

That was all the cushion Brooks would need, as she again was strong on the mound, allowing just one hit and no runs. She had nine strikeouts and walked three.

"They had runners on, they were on third a couple of times but we just held them," Teixeira said.

Patterson dropped to the loser's bracket then but was able to battle back to face Escalon in the championship round later in the week.

Escalon had two runs, five hits and one error. Patterson had no runs, one hit and one error.

The girls were back in action Friday, taking on Calaveras and eked out a 2-1 win with a run in the fourth and a run in the sixth.

Casey Schmidig walked in the fourth to get things started, Frasier singled and Jackson notched an RBI single to get her team on the board. In the sixth, Frasier reached on an error and Jackson again was the key, this time rapping a double to drive in the run.

Neither side could get much going, as the Lady Cougars had just four hits on the day and Calaveras had two. Each team had two errors. Brooks did put 12 down on strikes and had just one walk.

Despite the slim margin of victory, Teixeira said her team entered the Friday contest with a good feeling.

"They were comfortable, confident, upbeat and positive, that was key," she said.

It all came down to Saturday - and the triple digit heat - in Stockton. Patterson, which clawed its way back, had to beat the Lady Cougars twice in order to win the crown. They got one win, in the first game, but Escalon prevailed in the second to earn the Section banner.

The noontime game went extra innings with Patterson taking a 1-0 victory in the 10th on the international tiebreaker rule.

"They were home team and it went to the tiebreaker in the tenth," explained Teixeira. "We didn't score, they did."

Escalon had just one hit in the contest, from Jackson, while Patterson had two. Brooks stuck out 12, walked two and hit two batters.

The final game was winner-take-all and Teixeira said her girls put everything they had into the finale.