Daylynn Penner botched a play at shortstop in the bottom of the fifth when the Sierra Timberwolves were taking on cross-town rival East Union, allowing the tying run to get into scoring position.
But she wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice.
After star pitcher Gabby Hawkins hit a batter to load the bases and put EU in a prime position to take the lead in the sixth inning, the Lancers erupted for three runs to get their foot back in the door.
But in the top of the seventh, it was Penner who chased down a fly ball in deep foul territory to hold Lancer runner Cherie DeJesus at third, and then called off the infield on the ensuing at-bat to record the third out and hand Sierra a 5-4 victory. The win avenged a previous loss to EU while at the time keeping the T’Wolves playoff hopes alive.
“I think that we believed in our mind that we were going to come out and get this game because last time they beat us pretty bad,” Penner said. “We had a few errors early in the game, but we picked ourselves up and played together as a team and that’s what really did it for us.”
After Sierra (10-5 VOL, 16-5 overall) committed three straight errors, the Lancers (12-2, 20-6) allowed Jillian Goulart to cross the plate. It wouldn’t be until the sixth inning, however, that the Lancers were able to tack three more runs onto the scoreboard and make it at a one-run game.
“We came out strong and put a little pressure on them, and it was just enough to edge out a win like this,” Sierra head coach Nick Olmo said. “We didn’t do so well against their pitcher (Kourtni McCall) when she came in to relieve Jackie Ketner, but I had all of the faith in the world in Gabby Hawkins to finish this one out and she did an incredible job.
“For us to be able to come back from those early errors was huge, and that’s going to happen in softball – it’s just a matter of how you deal with them and I think that we did well today.”
While Penner made a pair of defensive plays to close out the game, she was no slouch at the plate either. She finished the day 2 for 3 with three RBIs – giving the junior the best batting line on the day.
Not a single player from Sierra’s squad managed to score more than a run, and Olmo credited Penner’s heads-up base running – which included a steal – as one of the key elements in Wednesday’s victory.
In the fifth inning, East Union left the bases loaded – adding to an already growing number of stranded runners that could have just as easily changed the course of the game.
But East Union’s single chance at getting ahead of the scoreboard came in the sixth inning when Brittany Lamar smashed what looked like a solid shot which would have drove in a pair of runs – but ultimately caught her in a run-down between first and second base that ended the inning. Lamar’s misstep left a runner in scoring position.
“We just had dismal hitting out there today and that’s all that you can really say about it,” East Union head coach Brian Goulart said. “We didn’t hit the ball very hard as a club today, and you can’t leave runners stranded on the base the way that we did.”
The Lancers will next have to play Ceres on Friday to round out VOL action in what has become a four-way race for the three Sac-Joaquin Section Playoff Spots. Sierra – which had already beaten second-place Ceres twice this year – will have to beat both Weston Ranch and Manteca High while at the same time needing a Bulldogs win on Friday.