MODESTO — With East Union’s 6-1 win over El Capitan at the Rainbow Fields Softball Complex on Saturday, the Lancers won the ‘B’ bracket championship of the Rainbow High School Classic.
The Lancers finished tied with Turlock atop the bracket but earned the title because of the “runs against” tiebreaker. They won their four games by a combined score of 35-5. Turlock gave up 12 runs for the tournament.
Earlier on Saturday East Union (5-1), blanked Atwater, 8-0.
“We have been working on starting early,” East Union coach Steffany Zanini said. “We have had a pattern of starting too late. We just had a long week of practice where we talked about jumping out early and in these last four games we have tried to work on that, trying to stay at that level the whole game.”
“We’re young, we’re excited, we’re ready to go. We’re trying to prep for the Valley Oak League ahead and we want to go into it strong because it’s a tough league.”
Layla Molina was masterful in the circle for the Lancers, striking out 10 and carrying a one-out shutout into the sixth and final inning when the Gauchos (5-4-1) scored their only run. Molina retired 11 in a row from the first inning into the fifth, striking out the side in the fourth.
“The defense really backed me up,” Molina said. “I thought I did pretty well staying ahead in the count.
“And we covered things offensively, too. I had a little room so I did not have to stress about them scoring.”
Molina’s battery mate Mackenzie Nervis singled and scored in the first inning, going 2 for 3 with a double, RBI and a run.
“I was just looking for something I could hit hard,” Nervis said. “The pitcher was throwing a lot inside so I backed up off the plate a little so I could get around on the ball.
Kylee Gann plated Nervis on a ground-rule double in the first inning. Aubree Gann reached base three times for East Union, singling once and walking twice.
Against Atwater, Brooke Grabowski took a perfect game into the sixth inning and she had a big bat as well, blasting a two-run home run in the fourth inning.
The Falcons (1-4-1) broke up Grabowski’s perfection with a leadoff error in the sixth followed by a base hit, the only ball to leave the infield. Grabowski retired the next three to end the game, ending with five strikeouts and one hit.
The East Union bats were busy in the third inning. After the Lancers went down in order in the first and second innings, Lydia Allgaier (2 for 3, double, two runs) walked to start the third and came in on Aubree Gann’s triple. Gann scored on a dropped strike three to Dianne LaFuente and LaFuente scored on Molina’s home run.
The Lancers travel to Stockton on Wednesday to face Bear Creek at 4 p.m.