Bruins to look for section title today
STOCKTON – In what has been a season of firsts for the Bear River softball program, the Bruins will look to add one more milestone in school history this afternoon in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship.
Bear River (26-4) will square off with East Union (24-5) at high noon in the section title contest, the first time a Bear River softball squad has taken the field in section championship game.
“That is outstanding,” said Bear River coach Duane Zauner, moments after his Bruins had defeated Whitney 4-2 Friday night. “We’ve talked about getting into that game since the season began.
“You know, we broke the record for most wins Tuesday night. And this is the farthest we’ve ever been in the section playoffs. There have been a lot of firsts this year.”
The Bruins were the first on the scoreboard in the win over Whitney (20-12), which marked the third time Bear River had beaten its Pioneer Valley League foes this season. The Bruins beat the Wildcats 1-0 on April 23 and 3-2 on May 8, as Bear River wrapped up its first league championship since 1996.
After being shut out in Friday’s first matchup, a 1-0 loss to East Union, the Bruins came out swinging in their second chance to make the title game. Bear River posted three runs in the inning. Two of those runs came on a triple by freshman Katie Mathis, who also had a double in the win.
The Bruins added another run in the third inning on a solo home run by junior Kelly Shepard. That was all the offense Bear River needed, as Shepard allowed just three hits in the nightcap of the doubleheader. She struck out five and allowed two earned runs, both which came in the fifth inning, en route to the victory.
Bear River belted out 11 hits in the win, as Courtney Ceo, Kathryn Rabak, Ashley Sawyer, Shepard and Mathis each had two hits in the win.
“We definitely came out hitting,” Zauner said of the second game. “Katie had the big triple and Kelly, of course, had the big shot. I think that was out of frustration from the first game.”
Game one saw quite a pitcher’s duel between Bear River’s Britney Ceo and East Union’s Erin Arevalo.
The game went scoreless into the bottom of the sixth, when Lancer shortstop Rochelle Seller sent a Ceo pitch over the left-center field fence for the game’s only run.
“It was a great pitcher’s game,” Zauner said. “It was fun to be a part of a game like that.”
Bear River came back in the top of the seventh by putting the potential tying run on second base with two outs, but East Union pitcher Arevalo forced a fly ball to end the game.
Arevalo, a junior right-hander, struck out 11 and allowed just two hits on the afternoon, without a walk. On the opposite side of the ledger, Ceo fanned seven while walking one and allowing four hits.
The Bruins’ best chance at breaking into the scoring column came in the top of the third when Courtney Ceo reached on an error at first base. The speedy freshman shortstop then stole second and third base. But with two outs, Arevalo got Bear River senior Ashley Sawyer to put out to first base to end the threat.
Bear River’s lone hits in the game came off the bats of sophomore Kathryn Rabak and junior Jenna Wermes.
“We said we had to have eight or less strikeouts to win and we didn’t meet that,” Zauner said. “I think we’re going to try something a little different (today). I think we’re going to get back in the box to get a little bit longer look at the ball.”
In the fifth inning, the Bruins thwarted what looked to be the first run scored of the game when a two-out single to left field was fielded by Bear River sophomore Tori Humbard. As East Union’s Brionna Goulart attempted to score from second, Humbard heaved a perfect to throw to the plate where Wermes applied the tag to end the inning.
“Your big players have to play big in big games,” Zauner said. “We’ll call on them all again (today) and see what happens.”
Action begins at noon today. A Bear River win would force a second game, which would take the field 30 minutes after the contest that starts at noon.
Directions – To get to Arnaiz Stadium in Stockton, take Business 80 to Highway 99 south. Following Highway 99 to Stockton and take the Morada Lane exit and go west about a half mile The softball complex is at the northwest corner of Holman Drive and Morada Lane.
To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4240.
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
New season. New co-head coaches. Same expectations.