Mikayla Bongi utilized her stellar East Union defense to get out of two late-inning jams Friday on the way to a 2-0 non-league softball victory over perennial powerhouse Elk Grove at Northgate Softball Complex.
“She is a budding superstar,” Lancers coach Brian Goulart said of Bongi. “She is throwing extremely well and she is a battler. She dug deep and got the job done, even against their 3-4 hitters to finish the job. I know that if I have my 3-4 hitters in that situation, I’m a happy guy.
“And we have quite a combination with Alejandra (Rascon) back there at catcher. Nobody runs on her because they will get gunned and she never has a passed ball. She is like a machine back there.”
In the sixth inning, the Thundering Herd (1-2) loaded the bases with one out and the No. 3 batter due up. Bongi induced a flyout to Taylor Ward in center field and a groundout to Deja Guzman at second to end the threat.
History repeated itself in the seventh. Elk Grove again loaded the bases with one out and again came away with nothing. The Thundering Herd notched its second out on a flyout to Izabella Owen at third and Bongi struck out Elk Grove’s leadoff batter to end the game.
“That was all my defense,” Bongi said of her team getting out of jams in the sixth and seventh innings. “With our defense, I know that if the other team hits the ball someone is going to get it. It’s just ridiculous how good they are.”
East Union first baseman Michelle Castro personified the team’s outstanding defense. In the second inning with a runner on second Castro got a great break on an attempted sacrifice bunt to catch it in the air. Following a walk, Castro fielded a line drive and doubled up the runner at first to end the inning.
“I was coming in on the bunt and I could read it off the bat,” Castro said. “You can kind of tell by how the player is formed in the box.”
With the Lancers (6-0) clinging to a 1-0 lead, Castro laced a one-out double in the fifth. Deja Guzman came up next and wanted to advance Castro, but did one better – she doubled Castro in for a 2-0 lead.
“When she (Castro) got on I knew I had to try and get her over,” Guzman said. “I knew if I did that Sam (Owen) was behind me and would hit her in.
“I had to make an adjustment because I knew she was going to pitch me outside.”
A pair of uncharacteristic Thundering Herd errors landed Guzman on second in the first inning with one away. With Sam Owen on first, Taylor Ward hit a potential double-play ball to third, but she beat it out and Guzman came around to score from second and put East Union ahead 1-0.
“Elk Grove and us have been waiting for this game,” Goulart said. “Rankings don’t mean a whole lot, but prior to the game we were ranked No. 1 and they were ranked No. 2 so these teams were kind of going at it March Madness style.
“After these college basketball games today I told our girls we were not going to be Michigan State and get spanked – we were going to battle. It was really fun and I respect them and their coaching staff. One hit one way and one hit another and the game may have been different.”