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Bruins rally for tournament title

HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Bear River spoils Escalon hurler’s perfect-game bid in battle of section champs
By: Journal Sports Staff
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JACKSON — For the third year in a row, the Bear River High softball team met Escalon in the championship game of the Argonaut Dandelion Classic. And as one would expect in a game involving two reigning Sac-Joaquin Section champions who have taken turns beating each other for the tournament title, the game was a tight one. Bear River broke up a perfect-game bid by Escalon pitcher Caitlin Brooks in the seventh inning on Saturday, stringing together three straight hits to beat the Cougars 1-0 and avenge last year’s title-game defeat. Sophomore first baseman Stephanie Ceo started the rally with a single for the Bruins (4-1), then moved to third on senior second baseman Katie Mathis’ double. Sophomore catcher Alyssa Reina then hit a ball deep into the hole between third and short, and Ceo beat the throw to the plate to give Bear River the win. Bear River, the defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champion, lost to Escalon, who won last year’s Division V crown, 3-2 in last year’s Argonaut Classic title game. Two years ago the Bruins won 2-0. Coming into Saturday’s game, Escalon’s Brooks hadn’t allowed a run — earned or otherwise — in six games. Sophomore pitcher Erin Nichol went the distance against Escalon, striking out three and walking three. She also threw four shutout innings earlier on Saturday in a 6-0 win over Argonaut, striking out four and walking one. Backing Nichol up with outstanding defense in the win over Escalon were sophomore center fielder Courtney Edwards, who made two running grabs in the gap in right-center, and Mathis, who made a diving catch. Against Argonaut, Mathis and freshman third baseman Hallie Heath each tripled and drove in two runs. Reina and senior right fielder Christianne Thill each went 1-for-2 with an RBI, and senior shortstop Courtney Ceo doubled, stole two bases and scored twice. Bear River opened the tournament on Friday with a rain-shortened, 15-0 win over Bret Harte. Courtney Ceo earned tournament MVP honors and was joined on the all-tournament team by Mathis and Nichol. Placer goes 2-1 at Argonaut Behind strong pitching from Jenna Knox, the Placer High softball team won two of its three games at the Argonaut Dandelion Classic in Jackson on Saturday. The Hillgals scored eight first-inning runs to rout Yosemite 12-2 in their tournament opener before falling to Elliot Christian 2-1 in eight innings. Placer (4-3 overall) then took fifth place in the 14-team field, beating Rio Americano 3-1. Knox allowed four runs on seven hits in 12 total innings at the tournament. She struck out 11. Brooke Stufflebean pitched well for the Hillgals in relief of Knox in the first two games. Ten of Placer’s 11 players had hits in the tournament. Taylor Graham, Hailey Leggitt and Kacy Romero had three hits apiece for the Hillgals. Leggitt, Kalley Gaffney and Stufflebean each drove in two runs. Romero, Alyssa Chapman and Alexis Strickland scored three runs apiece. Placer will host Golden Sierra Thursday afternoon.