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Easy as 1-2-3

Textbook sequence, McCall one-hitter anchor Lancer win

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Easy as 1-2-3

Sierra catcher Natalie Goulart does not get the relay throw in time as East Union's Kourtni McCall plates the Lancers' first of two runs in the second inning of Friday's crosstown contest at Sierra...

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED March 28, 2009 5:18 a.m.
Walk, bunt and let the big boppers bop.

It was textbook softball, and that’s what it took for East Union to down rival host Sierra 2-0 on Friday, capping a pivotal three-game, Valley Oak League stretch for both clubs.

East Union leadoff hitter Kourtni McCall ignited the deciding sixth-inning rally with a full-count walk, and Jillian Goulart dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt three pitches later.

Cassie Waggy took the next offering and thumped it to the left-field fence to score McCall with a clutch double.

“Coach (Brian Goulart) kind of call it — that Kourtni was going to come up and get on, then Jill had to do her job and get her over,” said Waggy, who was 2 for 3 for the second straight game after bashing a first-inning homer against Ceres Wednesday.

“After (Jillian Goulart) did it, I told myself it’s my job to get that run home. I didn’t plan on hitting it that far, I just wanted to get her home.”

Heads-up base running was also key for the Lancers (3-1, 9-3 overall). Waggy, who stole two bases in her previous at-bats, raced to third base after her big knock during the relay throw to the plate.

That allowed clean-up batter Brittany LaMar to deliver a deep sacrifice fly to straightaway center and easily score Waggy.

“Cassie’s base running, boy that was exciting,” coach Goulart said. “She kept running, she had her head up and when they threw it she was safe by a mile.

“That was a big play, because now LaMar can sacrifice fly to center to score the second run … You’ve got to get two, it’s a lot harder to get two.”

Especially with how both pitchers controlled the game leading up to that point.

Sierra ace Gabby Hawkins, who hasn’t given up more than two runs in a game all season, was in cruise control through five innings despite three defensive errors behind her. She finished with seven strikeouts to one walk while scattering five hits.

McCall and her mistake-free defense, though, were darn near perfect.

McCall tossed six 1-2-3 innings, and her bid for perfection was broken up by Emily Silvia’s Texas League single with one out in the fourth. McCall later walked Karissa Valdez, and Heather Scharmann loaded the bases on a fielder’s choice.

She preserved the scoreless tie with a strikeout to end the threat. Her one-hit masterpiece was highlighted by seven strikeouts.

“The defense is superb,” McCall said. “I love them to death, and without them I don’t think I’d be able to pitch the way I’ve been pitching.”

Sierra coach Nick Olmo credited McCall for effectively silencing the Timberwolves’ offense, but it has been trying to break through a season-long slump.

“We need to find a way to get our bats through the ball hard and not just hope to make contact,” he said. “Our offense has been a little bit of an issue lately, so we’re just hoping to make contact now. We’ve been talking this through for a week now or so. They understand, I just think it’s going to take a little bit to get it turned around.”

Olmo is hoping for sooner rather than later with Sierra’s toughest stretch of the first half of league play out of the way. Sierra (2-2, 7-3-2), East Union, Oakdale and Ceres entered Friday’s contests in a four-way deadlock for first place.

Each of the local teams played the other three in succession, while Oakdale and Ceres meet next Wednesday.

“To be out 3-1 after the first two weeks, we’re really excited,” Goulart said.

Sierra hosts Manteca at 4 p.m. Wednesday, while the Lancers take on visiting Weston Ranch at 6 at Northgate Softball Complex.
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