Del Oro armed, dangerous

Led by experienced core, Golden Eagles heating up as they begin SFL title defense
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LOOMIS — Aspen Echelmeier’s strong right arm was up to the challenge Thursday afternoon just like the rest of the Del Oro High softball team. The Golden Eagles rallied from an early 1-0 hole to top Nevada Union 3-1. They improved to 2-0 in the Sierra Foothill League as they look to repeat as league champions. Echelmeier helped snuff out the Miners’ attempt at a rally in the sixth inning when the catcher gunned down two Nevada Union players on steal attempts. Paige McKim then made a catch at the fence, fell over it and still hung on, for the third out of the inning. Junior Jordan Courage recovered from a shaky start to strike out 12 and give up just two hits in the pitcher’s circle. Del Oro jumped in front in the third inning as Carisa Cotter scored on an RBI-double by McKim and then came home on a sacrifice fly by Courtney Smith. The Eagles added a run in the fifth as Hanna George singled, stole second base, advanced to third on an error and scampered home on a wild pitch. Echelmeier is one of just three seniors on the Del Oro roster, which looks much like it did last year. “We’re a really strong, bonded team,” the catcher said. “We have a lot of returning players and we’re ready to try and win league and get ready for sections.” After claiming the league banner, the Eagles suffered an agonizing 1-0 loss to Cordova in their Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoff opener. “That definitely hung over our heads a little bit, but we came in this spring ready for a new start,” said junior Hannah George, who was 2-for-3 Thursday. “We have high expectations, but we’re trying not to be overconfident. We don’t want to overlook anybody.” Echelmeier is happy to have her battery mate back. The two know each other well, having played all last summer together on t heir American Softball Association Club. “We know each other pretty well,” Echelmeier joked. “I know what she’s going to throw and she always knows where I’m going to be. It helps a lot.” Del Oro is the favorite to repeat as league champion, but Roseville, Granite Bay and Woodcreek should all give them tests. The Eagles are looking at each game as a challenge. “I don’t know if it’s really pressure to win,” Echelmeier said. “We’re just hungry for it.”