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Lancers go down swinging with valiant comeback
East Union senior Cherie DeJesus gets a high-five from assistant coach Julia Bylow after slugging a two-run homer in the fourth inning that closed Oakdale’s lead to 5-3 during Friday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV softball playoff game in Stockton. - photo by HIME ROMERO
STOCKTON — Cherie DeJesus was the last East Union Lancer to walk away from Arnaiz Stadium following a 7-3 season-ending loss to Valley Oak League rival Oakdale in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs Friday.

With tears streaming down her face, she wanted her experience as an East Union athlete to last a little longer.

Oakdale (22-7-1) ended up losing to Center — the team responsible for knocking EU into the consolation bracket on Wednesday — 3-1 in the nightcap.

Center will face three-time defending section champion Bear River in the finals today at noon after falling to the Bruins 13-1 in the winner’s bracket semifinal.

“I’m super sad that this is my last game,” said DeJesus, one of six seniors on the team. “We were looking forward to having more time together, and as a senior you’re not ready to leave.

“My two years at East Union was definitely not enough.”

DeJesus, who transferred from West High of Tracy after her sophomore year, literally went out with a bang.

With her team trailing 5-1, she smashed a two-run homer to straightaway center to close East Union (22-8) in. The comeback attempt didn’t end there, but unfortunately for the Lancers it ultimately did.

Things were set up nicely for Oakdale hurler Brianna Parker in the final inning with East Union’s bottom third of the order, which was oh-fer against her going in, coming up.

Cherrise Martin led off with an infield hit, and after two strikeouts Jillian Goulart (2 for 4, run) and Kourtni McCall each singled to load the bases for No. 3 hitter Cassie Waggy.

Parker left the tying run in the batter’s box with her 11th strikeout of the contest. Oakdale ended up winning its season-long series over EU in the rubber match after splitting their two games in league.

“We fought back and had them shaking in the end,” DeJesus said. “Honestly, I’m a little bitter because it was Oakdale, but if it was anybody else I’d probably feel the same way.”

As effective as Parker was for the Mustangs, East Union still managed to get eight hits off her. Parker’s defense did well to keep that hit total at eight by making big plays behind her.

The Lancers struck first with an unearned run, but EU committed two infield errors that led to four unearned runs.

“We had some gaping holes in our defense today and just handed over some runs, but even with that we had the tying run at the plate,” East Union coach Brian Goulart said. “We didn’t play our best but still had a chance in the end against a really good pitcher and a really good team.

“They made a lot of really good plays defensively and we didn’t.”

Parker was also 3 for 3 with two RBIs. Kaila Olson finished 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI from the top of Oakdale’s order, and Shelby Reali plated three runs. MacKenzie Taylor (RBI) and Ghianna Falconi (run) were both 2 for 3.

Seniors Jackie Ketner and McCall shared time in the pitcher’s circle for EU. Ketner was solid in her 4 1/3 innings of relief, giving up two runs (one earned) on four hits and three walks while striking out three.

Of the graduation losses, Ketner and the middle-infield tandem of McCall and DeJesus are the biggest.

“I think we have some great potential even though we lose some great seniors,” Coach Goulart said. “We have some top-notch players coming back. I think we’re going to surprise some people next year.”