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Varsity Softball Girls Claim Riverbank Tourney Title
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You can already call them the cardiac kids.

Escalon's varsity Lady Cougars softball team had a few last-minute victories this week, claiming the championship of the Riverbank Tournament under new head coach Diane Teixeira. She has been an assistant coach the past few years and takes over for Sheila McGuire, out on leave this season.

The squad began the winning week with a 3-2 victory at home against Modesto Christian in non-league action on Tuesday.

They scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

"It was exciting," admitted Teixeira.

Escalon scored a run in the first, one in the fourth and Modesto Christian tied it with two runs in the sixth. Escalon got one in the seventh to take the win.

Melissa Nickas singled, was bunted over and came in to score on a Mandy San Julian single in the first inning, Michelle Williams reached on an error, stole second and scored on Nickas' single in the fourth.

In the seventh, Amber Wood reached on a single, Williams bunted her to second, she went to third on a single by Nickas and scored the winning run on a single by San Julian.

Nicky Brown did the pitching, striking out six and walking two while giving up five hits. Escalon had four hits and five errors, Modesto Christian had four errors on the day.

"It was great, they hung in there," Teixeira said.

Then it was off to the Riverbank Tournament, where the squad played five games, two on Thursday and three on Saturday, culminating with the championship win over Patterson.

Starting off the competition with Waterford on Thursday, the Lady Cougars earned a 4-0 victory. Shannon Krein went 2-for-3 with a single and an RBI to lead the offense. Missy Cullum handled the pitching and handcuffed Waterford, striking out 12 while allowing just three hits.

Against Patterson in game two, the squad fell short in an 8-3 decision.

"We just had a few errors," said Teixeira. "Patterson hit it and our outfielders just didn't catch them."

Patterson scored a run in the first, four in the second and three in the third, Escalon countered with single runs in the second, third and fourth, Krein had a double, Brown pitched and notched seven strikeouts.

"We regrouped at practice on Friday," Teixeira explained. "We came back vs. Le Grand on Saturday and beat them 9-0."

The game went just four innings, the Lady Cougars rapped out nine runs on seven hits. Brown hurled a no-hitter, striking out seven.

Leading hitters in the win were Nickas, 2-for-3 with a single and double; Krein, 2-for-3 with a double, single and RBI; Cullum, 1-for-2 with a double and two RBIs; Williams, 2-for-2 with two doubles and two RBIs.

Facing off against Argonaut, the girls took a 3-2 win, the game winner coming in the eighth inning in an international tiebreaker.

"We scored one in the second, they scored one in the fourth and one in the fifth, we tied it up by scoring one in the seventh," said Teixeira.

Courtney Sperry scored the game winner on a drag bunt by Amanda Ainsworth after being bunted over to third by Nickas in the eighth inning.

"It was exciting," said Teixeira.

Brown gave up two runs on four hits while striking out seven, Escalon rapped out seven hits and played "awesome defense," according to their coach.

In the final match for the championship, Escalon drew Patterson and avenged the loss to them earlier in the tournament, winning by a 7-2 margin to take the top honors.

"After Friday's practice, they just got it together," Teixeira said of the squad. "They were more focused, the bats got going."

Brown struck out eight in the finale, allowing one run in the fourth and one in the sixth.

Escalon scored three runs in the first to take the early lead, then added four runs in the third.

Nickas was 3-for-4 with three singles, San Julian 3-for-4 with two singles, a double and an RBI. Wood went 2-for-3 with two singles and an RBI and Cullum was 1-for-3 with a double and two RBIs.

"Nicky Brown was the MVP and we had three players on the All Tournament Team, Nickas, Cullum and San Julian, and Amber Wood was voted most inspirational," said Teixeira. "We also got a plaque and it was a great tournament."

The girls will be back on the road for another tournament this week, heading to Jackson for that competition.