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Bear River falls to Pioneer in section playoffs (VIDEO)

Walter Ford
Sports Editor
Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

SACRAMENTO — On the same field where a year ago the Bear River softball team celebrated a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III championship, the 2013 version of the Lady Bruins had its title hopes dashed.

In a game that was much closer than the score would indicate, the Pioneer Patriots beat reigning D-III section champ Bear River, 9-2, Tuesday at the Sacramento Softball Complex.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the girls,” Bear River head coach Jason Bohrer said. “They did such a great job. For such a young team and not having a lot of experience, they just continued to play hard, have a positive attitude and kept working to get better.”

Tuesday’s matchup with Pioneer (20-6) pitted two dominating pitchers against each other as well as two struggling offenses. Coming into the contest Bear River (13-12) had scored only two runs in two previous playoff games, and Pioneer had plated only three in two postseason games.

It turned out the Patriot bats were just waiting to explode. The Tri-County League champs jumped all over Bear River in the first inning with four runs coming on four hits, a walk and an error. They added another in the second inning to grab an early 5-0 advantage.

Bear River freshman pitcher Nerissa Long, who hadn’t allowed five runs in a game since mid-April, settled down by the third inning, silencing the previously hot Pioneer bats.

In the circle for Pioneer was sophomore ace Angelica Dark. The talented pitcher went the first four innings for Pioneer, striking out nine, walking three and allowing three hits and no runs.

The Lady Bruins had their chances to get back in the game, getting their leadoff batter on base in five of the seven innings but would failed to bring that runner across in four of those innings. The Lady Bruins also had runners in scoring position in five of seven innings but went 1-for-12 from the plate in those instances.

“We missed a few opportunities here and there, but it’s nothing but experience for them moving forward,” Bohrer said.

Bear River cut into Pioneer’s lead in the fifth with a leadoff single by Myah Shine followed by Long reaching on an error. Mikayla Laymance brought Shine and Long home with a line drive single to left field. On the throw home Laymance advanced to second, and an errant throw hit her in the upper back/ neck area, and she fell to the ground. But that didn’t keep the sophomore catcher from finishing the game, as she returned behind the plate in the next half inning.

Laymance finished the game 1-for-3 with two RBIs, a single and a walk.

Now trailing 5-2 with two outs in the sixth, the Lady Bruins put runners on with a single by Rachel Last, which was followed by a single off the bat of Shine.

Last finished the day with two hits in four at-bats and had several put outs from second base. Shine went 3-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.

With the tying run at the plate in the form of Long, the Bear River crowd began to get excited. But that excitement was soon quashed as Pioneer got out of the inning when Long just missed the offering and got under the pitch, flying out to left field.

Pioneer put the game away in the seventh, scoring four runs on three hits, three walks and an error.

Leading Pioneer at the plate was Madison Bellin, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Tori Bellin added a 2-for-2 day with an RBI and three walks for the Patriots.

Long finished the day one out short of a complete game, leaving the circle to a round of applause from the Bear River fans for a stellar season. Long struck out eight on the day but walked 11, and seven of the nine runs allowed were earned.

Even though the season ended short of a championship, the Lady Bruins can hold their heads high, having won the Pioneer Valley League, notching a playoff win and having three players named to the All-PVL team. Long, Last and Laymance were all named to the All-PVL team, and first baseman Dayna Byers was honorable mention.

“Winning league was huge, and getting a chance to come down here and be part of the playoffs is huge,” Bohrer said. “This will only make them better in the future.”

Even Bohrer had admitted at the beginning of the season he didn’t know what to expect from this squad, as it had only two seniors and only one returning player from the 2012 section championship team, but what ensued was a pleasant surprise to him and the Lady Bruin faithful. Heading into next season, the product will be a bit more certain.

“The pieces are all here now, and everybody got a taste of what this is like,” Bohrer said. “Now when we go into next season, we can look at the preseason in a different way. Instead of trying to figure each other out and finding where we fit in, we can use preseason as a way to tune up for league and use league as a way to tune up for the playoffs and make another run next season.”

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email wford@theunion.com.


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