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Xepoleas, Del Oro down Granite Bay

By: Trevor Horn / Special to Gold Country News Service
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GRANITE BAY — Behind a 14-strikeout performance by Carly Xepoleas, the Del Oro High School softball team withheld a four-run first inning by Granite Bay and beat the host Grizzlies 10-5 in a Sierra Foothill League game Tuesday.

The teams combined for 12 runs in the first 1 1/2 innings, which lasted 45 minutes.

“I don’t think we have ever had an inning and a half like that,” Del Oro coach Sean Erickson said. “But it’s nice to come out on top.”

The win put Del Oro (10-5 overall, 2-2 SFL) back at .500 in league play following a 7-1 win Monday over Nevada Union in Grass Valley. The loss put Granite Bay (5-11, 1-3) in fifth place in the SFL just over a quarter of the way through the daunting 15-game schedule.

Despite the four-run outburst in the opening inning, Granite Bay coach Michele Granger was not pleased with the Grizzlies’ overall performance after being shut out in the final five innings.

“We need to learn to play hard through seven (innings),” Granger said. “When we do, we will be tough to beat.”

Xepoleas gave up five runs in the first two innings but settled in after that. The Azusa Pacific-bound senior faced 20 batters in the last five frames and struck out 10 in those innings. Her 14 strikeouts are one short of her season-high 15, according to Erickson.

“It started off a little bumpy,” Xepoleas said. “My pitching wasn’t the best it could have been. But I pushed through it and my team picked me up.”

San Francisco State-bound senior Hanna Miller led the team with three hits as the Golden Eagles scored their highest run total of the season. Del Oro scored 11 in a win on March 25 against Twin Falls of Idaho.

The 0-2 start to the SFL schedule was not lost on Erickson. The first-year coach at Del Oro knows the Golden Eagles are the four-time defending league champions. He said the slow start could give the team some good “calluses” that could prove to be a building block for a long round-robin SFL schedule over the next four weeks.

“This is absolutely the step we need to take,” Erickson said. “I think it's good to get that slow start, if you will, from the standpoint it can teach you early what you don't want to learn late.”

Senior Kristin Kurpershoek led Granite Bay with two singles and junior Nina Murphy-Cook scored two runs in the first two innings for the Grizzlies.

Del Oro plays at Roseville on Wednesday in a matchup of third-place teams.

Follow Trevor Horn on Twitter @trevhorn.