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EU avoids no-no with 4-run rally in sixth inning to topple Yuba City
Backed by a solid defense, Shelby Cefalu had her best pitching performance for East Union in a 4-0 shutout of visiting Yuba City in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs. - photo by Photo by WAYNE THALLANDER

East Union High played a little small ball late in Monday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division III softball playoff opener against Yuba City.

In the 4-0 victory at Northgate, Izabella Owen hustled out a one-out double in a scoreless game, then scored on a heads-up play after Allie Tajii legged out the sacrifice bunt try in the sixth inning.

"I caught them napping," Owen said of the play. She noticed the commotion on the close play at first and quickly rounded third.

"She was flying," Lancers coach Brian Goulart said. "She must have been going at 100 mph."

As it turned out, that play was just the tip of the iceberg.

From there, Allie Parker, Savina Molina, and Danielle Ramos dropped down successive bunts. Yuba City had trouble handling the ball each time — twice, the Honkers of the Tri-County Conference tried for the play at the plate rather than the force-out at first.

Lost in the shuffle was a fine pitching performance by Blake Craft, who held No. 7 East Union (19-7) without a hit until Owen's double in the sixth. She had 10 strikeouts.

"I had to try something different," said Owen, who slapped the ball to shallow left — just fair along the line by a half foot.

Thankfully, Shelby Cefalu had her best pitching performance as a Lancer, according to Goulart. She allowed just four hits in the shutout.

"We always knew she can be that dominant pitcher," he added.

Defensively, the Lancers had their moments.

Right fielder Ally Roberts made a driving grab in the second, while Cefalu orchestrated an inning-ending double play in the third.

Cefalu snagged a sacrifice bunt try before the ball hit the ground and calmly threw to freshman first baseman Bella Anchundo to double up the runner.

Catcher Ramos made a pair of plays in the sixth, reeling in a bunt attempt and throwing a base stealer out at third.

No. 10 Yuba City (17-8) hoped to mount a threat in the final inning, but Tajii in center made a running grab to rob Craft of a possible hit. Cefalu fanned the next batter and Roberts hauled in Michaela Jellsey's fly to right for the final out.

Next up for East Union is No. 2 Benicia, which destroyed No. 15 Laguna Creek, 16-0      

The Lancers will hit the road Wednesday for the next-round playoff game at 5 p.m.