PREP SOFTBALL: Bear River falls to Casa Roble in Sac-Joaquin Section DIV championship game
Bear River’s softball team fell just short of winning the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title, losing to Casa Roble, 7-4, in the championship game Saturday at Arnaiz Softball Complex in Stockton.
The No. 1 seed Lady Bruins (29-4) had their backs against the wall coming into the day, needing to beat No. 2 Casa Roble twice to earn the championship.
Bear River took care of business in thrilling fashion in the first game, beating the Rams 3-2 on a two-strike, two-out, two-run walkoff home run by senior Nerissa Eason. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Bear River pinch hitter Mallory Borrego drew a two-out walk that brought Eason to the plate. Eason hammered a two-strike offering, sending it soaring over the center field fence to give her team the victory and forcing a second game. Eason also earned the win from the circle, throwing seven innings, allowing two runs and striking out five.
In game two, the momentum quickly swung back Casa Roble’s way as they plated five runs in the first inning, highlighted by a three-run jack.
“We had a big win, and sometimes after a big, huge emotional win like that it’s hard to get it restarted,” Bear River head coach Duane Zauner said. “Before you know it they had five runs, and it was hard for us to get back into it.”
Trailing 5-0, Bear River plated two runs in the bottom of the second on an RBI single by Andrea Hardin, and an RBI groundout by Taylor Bonnifield. Bonnifield had a strong tournament going 9-for-21 overall and starting five of the six games off with a hit from the leadoff spot.
Casa Roble went up 7-2 in the top of the fourth on a two-run home run.
Eason would get those two runs back in the fifth inning with a two-run dinger, her third bomb of the tournament. Eason also took over for Arielle Koerber in the circle in the fifth inning and tallied her 1,000th career strikeout at the high school level.
“Four years of varsity softball at Bear River, 1,000 strikeouts, what a remarkable achievement that is, and she had two homers today that kept us going in the ball games,” Zauner said. “She’s the reason why we’re where we’re at. She’s a competitor with a lot of skill. I’m sad to see her leave and wish her the best.”
In her prep career Eason won 70 games from the circle, has a 0.86 ERA and notched 1,002 strikeouts. Eason finished the tourney 10-for-21 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.
Trailing 7-4, the Lady Bruins were unable to mount a real threat down the stretch and lost in a section championship game for the first time in school history. Bear River won the section title the five previous times it made the championship round.
Also contributing for Bear River was Koerber with two hits, Indyia Vierra with two hits and a run scored, Kailynne Van Winkle with a hit, Kayla Toft with an infield hit, Brieana Maddux with a hit and Hardin had a double in addition to her RBI single.
The loss ends a season in which the Lady Bruins won 29 games (second-most in school history), won the Pioneer Valley League with a perfect 10-0 record and amassed a 22-game winning streak leading up to the playoffs. Bear River bids farewell to seniors Eason, Hardin, Maddux and Danielle Crilly.
“As the season got along I think they gelled together and supported each other better, and I think they lived up to the Bear River tradition,” Zauner said of his team. “When they put on a Bear River uniform I hope they feel like there is a tradition there that they try to live up to, and they did live up to it.”
El Capitan 11, Bear River 4
The Bear River baseball team dropped the first game of a best-of-3 Sac-Joaquin Section DIV playoff series with El Capitan Saturday in Lodi.
The No. 3 seed Bruins fell behind 5-1 after one inning and never recovered.
Bright spots for the Bruins came from Griffin Frank (2-for-4, double, RBI) and Matt Lopez (2-for-4, double, two RBIs).
Bear River will face El Capitan again Tuesday, needing to beat the Gauchos twice to advance.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.
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Grass Valley native Brad Sweet drove past the competition and into victory lane last week, snapping his longest winless streak of the season.