Bruins go down in PVL softball tilt

Bear River suffers first PVL loss as Tofft dominates for Lincoln
By: Eric J. Gourley Journal Sports Writer
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LAKE OF THE PINES — Power prevailed over speed in a clash of undefeated Pioneer Valley League softball powers Thursday. Lincoln High ace Stephanie Tofft tossed a five-hitter and the Zebras pounded out 13 hits to beat Bear River 5-2. The Bruins (14-2, 4-1 PVL) allowed a season-high five runs and lost for the first time since dropping their season-opener to Ponderosa. “They can hit,” head coach Duane Zauner said of the visitors, who stranded nine on base. “They put pressure on us the whole time. I thought we did a good job keeping them to five runs. We struggled getting outs and they did a good job putting the bat on the ball.” Bear River squandered a bases-loaded, no-out opportunity in the first inning and Lincoln (14-3, 4-0 PVL) seized the momentum after the missed opportunity. “That hurt us,” Zauner said. “We didn’t put them in a hole and they come up and score the next inning. They took control from then on. They felt like they had control of the game and they did.” The Zebras, fresh off Tuesday’s 28-0 drubbing of Placer, nearly batted around against Bruins ace Erin Nichol in the second inning, but Nichol induced a grounder with the bases loaded and two outs to avoid further damage. Courtney Ceo and Stephanie Ceo singled and stole consecutive bases with one out in the third, and Alyssa Reina walked and stole second. The Bruins then took advantage of a Tofft throwing error on an attempted pickoff to tie the score at 2-2. “We knew it was going to be a pretty close game from the beginning,” said Stephanie Ceo, who like her older sister had two of the team’s five hits. “We really needed to come in here strong, and we did, but it didn’t go our way today and we’ll meet them again at Lincoln.” Stephanie Ceo committed a costly throwing error while trying to turn a double play across the diamond during Lincoln’s two-run sixth, and Tofft retired 10 of the final 11 batters she faced. She finished with 10 strikeouts. “We came back the first time, we just needed to come back a second time and it didn’t happen for us,” Ceo said. “Next time.” The Zebras won their third straight since a 10-1 loss to Del Oro at the Le Doux Tournament. Bear River will look to get back on the right track Tuesday when it hosts Whitney. “We’ll go one game at a time,” Zauner said. “There’s a long way to go and a lot of games still to be played.”