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East Union, Ripon secure league championships
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East Union had waited five years to celebrate a Valley Oak League championship, so what was another 30 minutes?

After taking care of business with 12-0 victory on a wind-swept Tuesday afternoon, the Lancers loaded the team buses and pointed the party back toward their N. Union Road campus.

Once there, the emotions spilled onto an athletic field near the teacher parking lot. The players huddled together and chanted “VOL! VOL! VOL!” while the coaching staff sealed a signature regular season with hearty handshakes.

This one was a longtime coming.

A perennial Valley Oak League and Sac-Joaquin Section contender, East Union (12-2, 20-2) hadn’t won a league championship since 2009.

“Unbelievably exciting. I think it’s the toughest one we’ve ever had because the league is so good,” Goulart said. “... We’ll cherish this one.”

But they’ll have to share.

The Lancers finish deadlocked with Oakdale at 12-2, and the league’s No. 1 playoff seed will be decided by a coin flip on Thursday. The playoffs begin Thursday, May 15.

Whether they win the coin flip or not, the result won’t change what happened on Tuesday.

East Union took advantage of a wild pitching performance by Weston Ranch (4-10, 11-13), turning eight walks and two hit-by-pitches into a rout.

The Lancers erupted for five runs in the third, three in the fourth and four more in the sixth to induce the 10-run mercy rule.

East Union had five base hits, one apiece from Jordan Vinson, Michelle Castro, Alejandra Rascon, Samantha Owen and Taylor Ward.

Alexis Erich put the finishing touches on a banner freshman campaign. She fanned 10 batters, walked two and gave up five base hits.

“The battery was stellar today. All business,” Goulart said. “They got after them from the very first pitch. To avoid a trap game, you have to have a stellar performance from the battery so that you don’t give it away.”

Weston Ranch got two hits apiece from Vanessa Contreras (double) and Christina Washington, but the Cougars were no match for the Lancers.

Not on this day.

Not with a title on the line.

“The first couple of innings were looking good,” Weston Ranch coach Janelle Bauer said. “But they capitalized on our mistakes. They had to win today, so they were prepared. They always come prepared.”


East Union 17,
Weston Ranch 2

Rebeca Leonard, Vanessa Martinez and Gabby Sandoval each went 2 for 3 from the plate to help East Union (13-1, 22-1) capture a share of the VOL championship.

Madisyn Anchundo, Delaney Pamplin and Milayla Bongi shared pitching duties and combined for seven strikeouts.

Trans-Valley League

Ripon 11, Hilmar 1 (5)

Tuesday’s TVL finale at Ripon turned into an event.

The team honored its four seniors and welcomed the seniors from the visiting club with gifts. After the game, the Indians celebrated their outright league championship with a barbecue until the sun came down.

It is the first time since 1996 that Ripon (11-1, 19-4-3) has captured a league title. That so happens to be the birth year of the team’s senior class comprising of standouts Tiana Chacon (2 for 3, two RBIs), Mackenzie Gauden (eight strikeouts, three hits), Taylor Vernon (RBI) and Melanie Wilkerson (run, steal).

“This senior class has really turned it around for us,” said Ripon coach Robert Vernon, who also earned his 100th career win Tuesday. “We have three kids who are going to play college softball. It was an emotional day for everyone, but winning league was obviously pretty exciting for the girls to accomplish that.”

Freshman Felicia Ceja (2 for 2, two RBIs) also highlighted the day with a home run. Junior Karla Calderon went 2 for 3 with two runs.