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EU victory over Ceres creates VOL logjam at top

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POSTED March 26, 2009 4:45 a.m.
Cassie Waggy and Rochelle Sellers crushed the big bombs to spot her the lead, and her defense came up with key plays behind her to help her keep it.

East Union pitcher Kourtni McCall wanted to make sure her teammates’ efforts did not go to waste.

A strike away from retiring the side 1-2-3, McCall yielded singles to Ceres’ Erika Reyes and Mika Johnson to put the tying run on base in the top of the seventh inning Wednesday at Northgate Softball Complex.

McCall steeled her nerves and struck out Ryan Norton on three pitches to preserve a pivotal 2-0 victory that creates a four-team logjam for first place in the Valley Oak League.

“I just shook it off and said in my head, ‘Just keep my face straight and stay positive,’” McCall said. “Then I just pitched my butt off and it ended.”

Though it was just the third of 14 regular-season contests, there was no question how big it was for both teams. With Sierra edging Oakdale 1-0 Wednesday, a win for Ceres (2-1, 10-2 overall) would have the Bulldogs alone at the top.

It was a good way for East Union (2-1, 8-3) to rebound following last week’s 3-1 loss to Oakdale, but crosstown rival Sierra completes its brutal three-game gauntlet of the VOL’s best on Friday starting at 4 p.m.

“It’s just so much fun having to play a great team every night,” East Union coach Brian Goulart said. “Everyone is saying we have four really good teams and I agree with them. It’s just proof that you have to show up every night.

“I’m dubbing it the (Atlantic Coast Conference) of softball — it’s Duke vs. North Carolina vs. Wake Forest. Every night you better bring your stuff.”

McCall had to work out of trouble all game, as she scattered eight hits but left nine runners on base. She finished with five strikeouts and no walks.

Ceres ace Vaneza Hoover, arguably the league’s best, struck out 11, but the Lancers sent an early message in the form of Waggy’s two-out, two-strike homer to deep left center in the first inning.

“I wasn’t really trying to hit a home run at all,” she said. “I was thinking I have to hit it hard. I don’t know, I just hit it and said, ‘Please get out of here.’”

Sellers followed that up with a triple to right in the second to score Cherie DeJesus (infield single). Waggy and Sellers combined for four of the Lancers’ five hits, each finishing 2 for 3.

East Union had chances to break it open in the fifth and sixth frames. In the sixth, the Lancers loaded the bases with one out, but Hoover escaped the jam with consecutive strikeouts.

“I really think we’re a good hitting team, it’s just hard to gauge yourself against Vaneza because she’s so good,” Goulart said. “If you score two runs and you have a chance to score three, four or five against her, that’s pretty darn good.”

Goulart also gave kudos to his defense, which coughed up two errors for two unearned runs last Friday.

One key play Wednesday came out of right field, where Tori Souza robbed Shaye Farriester’s possible RBI, multi-base hit in the sixth inning for the second out. Souza then made a great relay throw into the infield and nearly got courtesy runner Pricilla Acosta out at third.

“To me that was a game-saving play,” Goulart said. “That was the big defensive play of the game, and there were a lot of them.”

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