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SOFTBALL: Benicia foils EU’s bid for upset with walk-off home run
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BENICIA — If his team was going to get knocked out of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs, East Union coach Brian Goulart wanted to see the Lancers do so with a championship-level effort.

They at least accomplished that while providing a promising glimpse into the future Wednesday, losing to defending champion and second-seeded Benicia 3-2 in the eighth inning. The difference was a leadoff homer by Adriana Chavez in the final frame.

“We competed and had a chance to win the game,” Goulart said. “We had them nervous. When they hit the home run they celebrated like they won the World Series because they knew they were in a dogfight. It was a phenomenal effort by our girls. They played two phenomenal playoff games to finish out the season and I am very proud of this team."

The rematch of last year’s Division III final played out differently from the 11-1 blowout favoring Benicia. Junior pitcher Shelby Cefalu shined from the circle for a second straight game, keeping the No. 7 Lancers (19-8) in the game with her six-strikeout, four-walk six-hitter.

Benicia (25-2-1) jumped ahead 2-1 in the first inning after getting an RBI double from Chelsea Mari and run-scoring single from Grace French. Only one of those runs was earned, and Cefalu settled in to pitch six shutout innings.

“She showed signs of being a real dominant pitcher at times this year but always had that one bad inning,” Goulart said. “Today, she showed what she’s capable of. We’re super excited, because she’s rising and will continue to get better. She may be dominant by the time we get into league next year.”

East Union struck in the top of the first when four-year standout IzzyOwen walked and was driven in by Allie Parker. The Lancers tied it at 2-2 in the third thanks to Ally Roberts’ two-out double that plated Danyelle Godoy.

East Union was able to make hard contact throughout but could only get two more hits to drop — back-to-back singles from Danielle Ramos and Cefalu in the sixth. The Panthers were able to get the lead runner out at third on the play to get out of the inning.

Benicia faces off with No. 3 Casa Roble (23-5) in the double-elimination quarterfinals Saturday at Arnaiz Softball Complex in Stockton.