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Freshman pitcher, East Union defense made key plays
East Unions Jordan Vinson slides safely at the plate for a run behind Manteca catcher Aryanna Martinez on Gianna Gesslers sacrifice fly in the bottom of the second inning. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Things did not start out so smoothly for East Union freshman pitcher Michelle Castro in her first crosstown rivalry game.

Manteca High’s hard-hitting lineup was licking its chops just minutes into Friday’s Valley Oak League contest at Northgate Softball Complex after an error, double and walk loaded the bases with one out.

Castro fired a strikeout and fielded a routine grounder to get out of the top of the first unscathed. In the bottom half she came up with the big knock that got her and the rest of the Lancers rolling to a 7-2 victory.

Her two-out double down the left-field line scored two, and she was one of two Lancers to finish with three hits on the night.

Samantha Owen, another freshman, slugged a two-run homer in the fourth to cap the final score. Jordan Vinson hit 3 for 3 and scored twice, while Jillian Costa finished 2 for 4.

“I think that was the play of the game,” East Union coach Brian Goulart said of Costa’s momentum-changing hit. “She clutched up and gave herself a little (cushion). In practice she worked on composure and rhythm and it paid off. I knew she was nervous still, but that double gave her confidence.”

From the circle she was effectively wild while living dangerously throughout. Castro, a converted catcher, scattered six hits and struck out five but walked seven. She was faced with another bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth before she was part of a huge inning-ending double play.

Manteca (1-1 VOL, 7-4 overall), which had a six-game winning streak snapped, stranded 10 runners including six in scoring position. This club of heavy hitters was held to just the one multiple-base hit by Selena Gonzalez in the opening frame. Cleanup batter Celina Cooper went 2 for 3, but her hits didn’t leave the infield. Morgan Miramontes was also 2 for 3 and plated one of Manteca’s two runs in the fourth.

Manteca coach Corey Navarro said the tone was set in the first.

“We were sitting pretty, but we have to get those girls in when they’re in scoring position,” he said. “(Castro) was around the plate and (wild) at times, but we just didn’t make the adjustments that we have to make. My hats off to her, she’s a freshman pitcher who came out and threw a good game.”

“It’s one loss, it’s not like the year is over,” he added. “We just have to battle back from this.”

Defense also played a key role for both squads. The Buffaloes committed five errors that led to four unearned runs. Third-year junior Peyton Rose was forced to work through the extra at-bats, allowing 10 hits and a walk while fanning four.

East Union (1-0, 8-1), meanwhile, did commit two errors but neither led to runs. The Lancers were otherwise spectacular on defense, turning three double plays including a 5-4-3 sequence that ended the game. Third baseman Vinson was in on two of those double plays, including the game clincher.

“It felt great to end the game like that,” Vinson said. “But it’s not anything we don’t do at practice every day, so it feels pretty routine out there now.”


Oakdale 5, Weston Ranch 1

Weston Ranch (1-1, 7-3) was playing catch-up throughout after visiting Oakdale (1-1, 4-5-1) had scored all of its runs over the first two innings.

Elysia Hernandez went 4 for 4 with an RBI double that scored Naomi Thurman (singled) in the bottom of the seventh, but the Cougars struggled to get enough of the clutch hits to keep pace early. Vanessa Contreras legged out a triple, and Briana White accounted for Weston Ranch’s other hit.


Sophomore softball

East Union 16, Manteca 0 (3)

Taylor Ward (triple), Casey Peterson (2 RBIs) and Natalie Ramos (double, 3 RBIs) all went 3 for 3 at the plate for East Union (1-0, 12-0). Pitcher Lindsey Jordan yielded three hits and  a walk in the mercy-shortened, three-inning affair.


Sierra 28, Lathrop 1

At Sierra, Lathrop was able to scratch across a run in the top of the fifth to avoid the shutout.

The damage had already been done with the host Timberwolves putting up crooked numbers in every inning. Tayler Moss was 3 for 4 and had the highlight knock of the day, an over-the-fence grand slam. Kaitlea Maestas finished 4 for 5 with five runs and four RBIs. Natalie Garcia contributed a 3-for-5 effort with two doubles and four RBIs.

Pitcher Maria Vazquez struck out 12 in a three-hitter. Offensively, she drove in seven runs and doled out three hits.


Freshman softball

East Union 10, Enochs 8

On Thursday, the Pages plated two runs in each of the first five innings and held on for the win.

Bailey Glover paced the offense, going 3 for 3. Kayla Heath and Vanessa Martinez chipped in with two hits.