SACRAMENTO – East Union softball coach Brian Goulart is the king of plug-and-play.
The Lancers skipper started the year with one standout gone for the season, slugger Alexis Erich. East Union managed to remain undefeated until it lost Pacific commit Sam Owen to an ankle injury, leading to an extra-inning loss to Oakdale in the Valley Oak League finale.
Tuesday, the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champion Lancers began the defense of their title in opening-round play against Sacramento with yet another absence – leadoff batter and first baseman Michelle Castro. The slugging senior took ill Sunday and was unable to suit up Tuesday.
But Tuesday would not be a repeat of the heart-breaking loss to the Mustangs.
Goulart shifted things around to account for his two missing stalwarts, and East Union walloped the Dragons 12-2 in five innings at the Sacramento Softball Complex.
“I am so proud of our girls,” Goulart said. “Ragan (Fowzer) was great at first base today. I bet her heart was pounding out of her chest. She has played sophomore all year and she came up and did a phenomenal job. She blocked a bullet right at her and she had a line-shot base hit. I knew she would be scared to death, but she hung tough.
“Janelle (Barrera) came in, got a hit and reached another time, showed some hustle and energy. I like that. And Izzy (Owen) moved from third to short and Alejandra (Rascon) went from catcher to third. It was just people making moves and doing what it takes for our team. It worked out well, but I still want Sam (Owen) and Michelle (Castro) back. I am not going to say no to that.”
Rascon helped set the tone in the first inning. Taylor Ward started the frame with a double off the fence, and following back-to-back singles by Izzy Owen and Deja Guzman, the Lancers (22-1) led 2-0. Rascon made it 4-0 with one swing of the bat sending the ball over the left-field fence, scoring Guzman. East Union led 8-0 after the first inning.
“I just wanted to hit the ball and I needed to change my approach,” Rascon said. “I was very anxious and she was slow so I had to calm everything down and then I saw the ball and I attacked it, just like my dad and I have been practicing and how the coaches have told me.
“So I took it into consideration, I listened and it worked out.”
Mikayla Bongi started in the circle for the Lancers and pitched three perfect innings, striking out eight.
“Í felt really loose and relaxed,” Bongi said.
Fowzer made an unassisted putout for the only batter that Bongi did not strike out.
“Ragan (Fowzer) did a good job,” Bongi said. “This was her first time ever playing varsity at first base and she got that hard grounder. She did a real good job.”
Designated player Delaney Pamplin was 3 for 3 with a two-run home run.
“I was just trying to get a base hit,” Pamplin said. “Lately I have been in kind of a slump so I was just trying to get the ball on the ground.”
The loss ended the season for No. 16 Sacramento (8-6). Top-seeded East Union plays No. 9 Lincoln of Lincoln on Friday at 4 p.m. at the Sacramento Softball Complex. Lincoln beat No. 8 Christian Brothers, 3-0.