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East Union grabs outright claim to Valley Oak crown
Delaney Pamplin is mobbed by East Union teammates Amy Gann (7) and Vanessa Martinez (21) after scoring the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning against catcher Maddi Hackbarth and visiting Oakdale on Wednesday. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

East Union had a chit in the karma bank Wednesday night and picked the right time to get it back.

In the first inning of the Valley Oak League softball finale with visiting Oakdale, the Lancers appeared to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Michelle Castro launched one over the center-field fence, only to have the run taken off the board because time had been called prior to the hit after an errant ball was thrown onto the field.

East Union chased that run until the bottom of the ninth inning. With the score tied, no out and Delaney Pamplin on third, Alexis Erich hit a sharp grounder to second, much too sharp for Pamplin to score.

Pamplin broke for the plate and should have been out by five feet. But as the Mustangs catcher went to apply the tag she pulled the ball away from her mitt and Pamplin was called safe, giving East Union the VOL championship with a thrilling 7-6 extra-inning victory at the Northgate Softball Complex.

“It was a roller coaster,” Lancers coach Brian Goulart said. “But it was a fast, fun roller coaster. They fought back to take the lead multiple times on two-out hits — that’s what warriors do. The game was on the line and they were taking swings like it was batting practice. That team is great — that’s the best team we have played all year, not question about it.

“It’s fun to play these types of games. It was super exciting, and I don’t ever want to lose, but I could have lived with that effort and losing. But I am glad we won.”

Pamplin — who started the game inside the chalked circle, came out in the fourth and returned in the eighth – led off the ninth with a double and went to third when Samantha Owen’s hard hit grounder to second was booted. That set up Pamplin’s heroic dash to the plate for the win.

“I have been in kind of a slump,” Pamplin said. “It looked like an inside pitch and those are my best pitches to hit.

“I felt a little better coming back in to pitch then I did at the beginning. I was a little rocky to start.”

A game like this has many critical moments, but maybe none was as critical for East Union (14-0, 24-2) as the bottom of the eighth. Trailing 6-5, the Lancers were bringing the bottom third of their lineup to the plate in Deja Guzman, Amy Gann and Izabella Owen, who had collectively gone 0-9 in their first three trips.

Guzman led off with a single to right, advanced to second on Gann’s sacrifice bunt, took third on a wild pitch and beat the throw home when Izabella Owen grounded to second to knot the score at 6-6.

“I knew we hadn’t had a hit out of this crew and I was wondering what we were going to do,” Goulart said. “I remember telling Deja (Guzman) that she was going to hit a line drive to right because the Oakdale pitcher throws hard and that she was a good opposite-field hitter.

“I told her to focus on hitting a line drive to right – to sell out on it – and on an 0-2 count she ripped one to right field. And even though there were some big swings, in my opinion that was the hit of the game. That inning said that the bottom of the order could contribute and it did.”

There were some big swings in the sixth for East Union. With the Mustangs (12-2, 20-8) leading 3-1, Samantha Owen (2 for 3) made it 3-2 with one swing of the bat for a solo home run.

“As a team we were struggling to put the ball in play,” Owen said. “Someone needed to step up and get the rally going and that is what I did. And then as a team we all came up big.

“She left that pitch right down the middle — it was a mistake pitch for sure.”

Erich followed Owen’s blast with a walk, and Taylor Ward (2 for 4, two RBI) gave the Lancers a 4-3 lead with a two-run home run.

“That was great,” Ward said of her two-run blast. “First one home run and then another – it really changed the momentum. It put the energy back into our team – it was a game changer.”

A game like this normally has defensive gems, and this contest was no exception. In the second inning, Guzman robbed Meagan Reali when she made a diving catch of Reali’s line drive at second base. In the first inning, East Union turned an unconventional double play when catcher Alejandra Rascon fielded a sacrifice bunt quickly to first and Castro relayed the throw to third baseman Izabella Owen who got the tag down on Kindra Hackbarth, who tried to sneak over to third from first on the sacrifice.

The biggest defensive play of the game for the Lancers came in the eighth inning. With one across, two out and two on for Oakdale, Melanie Benge hit a fly ball to deep center where Cherish Burks broke in on the ball, appearing to lose it in the sun momentarily.

Burks (3 for 5) recovered and broke back on the ball, chasing it down for the third out.

The Lancers and the Mustangs begin the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs Thursday, May 14, at 5 p.m. at Arnaiz Field in Stockton. 


East Union 10,
Oakdale 0 (6)

The win for the Lancers capped a 25-0 campaign, going 10-0 for the VOL championship.

Maddie Anchundo pitched a six-inning perfect game, striking out 14 along with hitting a triple. Battery mate Kristina Mojica was 4 for 4 with a home run. Kianna Ahlstrom went 2 for 3 with an outstanding two-out, two-strike bunt that sparked a six-run inning. Laesa Pierce was 2 for 3.

This was the second consecutive VOL title for East Union.

“This was a fun and exciting year and I’m proud of each and every one of these ladies” Lancers coach Rob Brandi said.  “I’d like to thank them all for their selfless play.”


Manteca 15, Kimball 2

Asucena Mendiola had two home runs in a 3-for-4 outing for the Buffaloes Tuesday in their road win.

Danielle Burch had a home run and a single for Manteca and Eli Murrieta had a pair of hits.