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A dandy dozen for Eagles

HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Del Oro has won 12 straight games, outscoring its foes 66-13 in that span
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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LOOMIS — Her team trailing 2-0 in the fifth inning of their home opener against Nevada Union late last month, Savannah Pingree turned around in the on-deck circle to face her dugout. The Del Oro High softball captain didn’t say a word, but coach Sean Erickson recognized the look. “Get on my back,” Pingree’s eyes said. She smacked the second pitch of the inning over the fence and the Golden Eagles rallied to beat the Miners 3-2. “You start to value your worth a little more,” said Erickson, whose squad has won 12 straight games. “We had to come from behind to win a game.” It was a new experience for Del Oro (15-2), which had jumped out to early leads in sweeping six games to win the Lassen Tournament. The streak started at the tournament on March 19, two days after the Eagles dropped their Sierra Foothill League opener at Rocklin, squandering a 3-0 lead and falling 5-4. “We really didn’t find ourselves until we were challenged a little bit,” Erickson said. “You’ve got to seal the deal, and we didn’t.” Since the loss to the Thunder, Del Oro has outscored its opponents 66-13. Five of their six wins in Lassen came against California section or Nevada champions as the Eagles hit seven homers in the tournament. “They were complete annihilations of the softball,” Erickson said. “It caught us off guard, because we felt we were in a funk after the Rocklin game. The offensive surge surprised us.” Del Oro beat Woodcreek handily on the road on March 22 before winning the Le Doux Tournament with another stellar performance. “We realized not only are we good but we’re facing high-level talent,” Erickson said. “Where we are now, you really start to look forward to practice. We’re looking forward to the opportunities in front of us going back into league play. Our next six weeks become the overall largest tournament.” During the 10-day hiatus between games due to spring break, the Eagles practiced four times. Twelve of the 14 players attended three and 10 were at the fourth. “They’re dedicated,” Erickson said. “They’ve built something into their psyche that we are better than just one player, that we’re a unit and if we connect and communicate, all our jobs become easier. The byproduct is winning.” Del Oro has enjoyed the luxury of two aces in the circle this spring. Pingree, a senior, has a microscopic 0.57 ERA in 61 innings. The Le Doux Tournament MVP has allowed 37 hits and has a 50-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio. While Pingree worked her way back from a minor shoulder injury, the Eagles relied heavily on sophomore Jordan Courage. Courage won four of Del Oro’s six games in Lassen to earn tournament MVP honors. She’s compiled a 0.77 ERA and surrendered only 24 hits in 45 2/3 innings. The offense has been just as impressive. Pingree, junior Ciera Clark and sophomore Whitney Smith are all batting over .400 with at least 34 plate appearances. Clark, Smith and senior Annette Merjano have driven in most of the runs. “We do feel that we have, if not the best team in the area, one of the best teams in the area,” Erickson said. The Eagles resume SFL play Wednesday when they host Roseville.