East Union’s Izabella Owen just missed hitting one out Friday at Northgate Softball Complex.
Then she robbed someone else of an inside-the-park home run with a spectacular play from deep in left field.
And she’s a shortstop.
It was the exclamation point to a big night for the Lancers, who honored their five college-bound seniors with a 7-3 victory over cross-town foe Manteca.
“I have not heard a roar from our crowd like that in all the years I’ve been coaching, it was that special of a play,” East Union coach Brian Goulart said. “That’s the very best play I’ve ever seen as a coach.”
Even Manteca coach Josh Farris gave Owen her props. His Buffaloes (10-4, 19-7 overall) had one out when Holy Names signee Haighley Kissee stepped to the plate hoping to ignite a late rally for her club. She nearly did.
Kissee yanked a high-arching shot that bounced off the fence with left fielder Danyelle Godoy tumbling over it. Godoy leaped over the barrier and Alexis Erich came rushing in from center field, but Owen managed to get to it first.
“Alexis was nowhere near and I had no choice, so I sprinted out there and got the ball,” Owen said. “I didn’t even look in, I just chucked it. All I had to do was reach (Kristina) Mojica because she’s a great catcher. I knew she was going to get her out if I reached her.”
Farris sent Kissee home, but Owen delivered an absolute strike to her target. Kissee slid headfirst toward the dish but was tagged out by the diving Mojica before she could reach it.
“You never want to send the girl in that situation but I’m up there looking and their shortstop is getting the ball and their third baseman is running out there, too,” Farris said. “I’m thinking to myself that girl has got to throw all the way from left field, and to her credit she made the play.
“I told her after the game that’s one of the best softball plays I’ve ever seen.”
The stunning play on defense overshadowed the end of a productive week for East Union (13-0, 23-3) on offense. Owen also anchored a key two-out, two-run rally in the bottom of the sixth which answered Manteca’s three runs in the top half. She smacked a double off the left-field fence to drive in Danielle Ramos (walked) and scored on Allie Tajii’s single to right.
“We didn’t expect it to be a shutout, Manteca is good team,” Owen said. “They’re one of our rivals so they’re going to bring it to us and we expected that. They got good hits, timely hits, and we really needed to bounce back from that because we went flat for a couple of innings.”
Owen finished 2 for 3 and plated three runs. Tajii ended up 2 for 4. East Union totaled eight hits.
Liberty-bound senior Alexis Erich had the big blast of the day, a solo shot in the fifth that pushed the Lancers’ early lead to 5-0. She went 2 for 2 with two walks and knocked in Owen with a single for the first run of the game in the opening frame.
Erich had the deciding hit in East Union’s 1-0 victory at Manteca on April 7. In three games this week she went 7 for 7 with seven runs scored nine RBIs. The home run was her seventh of the season.
“It’s senior night and the atmosphere, look at all the people out there,” Erich said. “Especially with crosstown-rival games you always want to get the good hit that changes the game and I feel that pushed me a lot.
“Hopefully today’s hitting will carry over to Oakdale.”
Delaney Pamplin was the winning pitcher. She had a no-hitter through three innings until Tawny Deerinck broke it up with an infield single in the fourth. Pamplin struck out seven, walked two and scattered six hits in six innings of work.
The four-time defending league champion Lancers aim to complete a perfect run through league next Tuesday when they head to Oakdale.
For Manteca, Kissee collected eight strikeouts but couldn’t cool off East Union’s hot bats. She was part of the Buffaloes’ three-run rally in the sixth, hitting a double.
One batter later, Sierra Martinez’s seeing-eye single plated Kaylee MacDannald (singled), and Kissee scored on the same play after the ball was mishandled in the outfield. Rhiannon Genilla followed with an RBI single.
It was the regular-season finale for the Buffs, who are enjoying their most successful campaign since the 1990s.
“We didn’t play our best game, for sure — I think that’s what the girls are a little bit disappointed about,” Farris said. “We’re better than that score indicates. We’re very proud of our season thus far and we hope to do some things going forward into the playoffs.
East Union 17,
Manteca 0 (5)
Cali Blevins-Bronder tallied seven RBIs, finishing 3 for 4 with two doubles and a homer.
Alexandria Avalos also hit a home run, driving in two. Mackenzie Salgado went 4 for 4 with two doubles and four RBIs. Marcella Hansen was 2 for 2 with two RBIs. The Lancers amassed 20 hits.
Hayley Leonard fired 10 strikeouts in a mercy-shortened two-hitter.