ELK GROVE — Smarting from Thursday’s 10-0 Sacramento Tournament of Champions-opening loss to powerhouse Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills, the two-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division II champion, East Union coach Brian Goulart was curious to see how his team would rebound with a healthy lineup.
Ace pitcher Kourtni McCall (toe surgery) and slugging first baseman Cassie Waggy (flu) returned Friday to lead the Lancers to 5-3 and 2-1 victories over Righetti of Santa Maria and Reno, respectively.
“(The Righetti game) was our best win we’ve had this year, and we finally showed for the first time how good we can be,” Goulart said. “We played a full seven innings without an error.”
It took clutch hitting for East Union (4-2) to pull them both out.
The Lancers were down 3-0 to Righetti going into the fourth, but they answered with one in the bottom half and four more in the fifth.
Nycole Teeple tripled to spark the fifth-inning surge, and McCall followed with a double. After Jillian Goulart, Waggy and Brittany LaMar each reached with singles, Cherie DeJesus broke the 3-3 tie with a two-out single.
McCall showed early rust from the pitcher’s circle in her first game back, giving up a two-run homer in the first. She ended up scattering six hits.
“She did a good job of hanging in there,” Goulart said.
She returned to form in Game 2, this time in relief. Ally Palluck (six strikeouts, no walks, six hits) picked up her first varsity win after throwing four solid innings. McCall worked three scoreless innings and gave up just one hit for the save.
“I’m pretty excited to see our pitchers combine like that,” Goulart said.
Reno, the defending TOC Gold Bracket champion, snuck out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the first and took a 1-0 lead in the third.
Rochelle Sellers tied it with a big knock to center in the bottom half, and McCall’s sacrifice fly that plated Stephanie Guzman (doubled) in the sixth ultimately decided it.
East Union wraps up the preseason with two more games in the TOC today, first at 12:30 p.m. against either Casa Roble or Pleasant Grove.
In Linden, Gabby Hawkins was able to work through four errors to get the win. She helped herself out with 10 strikeouts to one walk to highlight a three-hit gem, and she drove in a run offensively.
Marissa Vallejos (2B, two RBIs) and Emily Silvia (2B, RBI) were each 2 for 3 to lead the way.
The host Lions (3-2) took advantage of Sierra’s defensive miscues in the bottom of the seventh to score both of their runs.
“The girls kept their composure and held on to finish the game,” Sierra coach Nick Olmo said. “It’s a little uncharacteristic of us to have four errors in one game, but I’m sure playing eight softball games in two weeks time had something to do with it.
“With a little rest, we’ll be ready for league come Wednesday.”
Sierra (5-1-2) opens Valley Oak League action Wednesday against Central Valley in Ceres.
In Stockton, Weston Ranch (0-6) couldn’t recover from the Vikings’ eight-run barrage in the first.
Angelysa Washington’s drove in two runs and plated another in the third to account for the bulk of the Cougars’ scoring. Raquel Barrientos added a double.
Weston Ranch opens the VOL with Oakdale on the road Wednesday.
— Jonamar Jacinto