There’s no denying Del Oro

Eagles overcome nemesis Roseville to clinch third straight SFL title
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LOOMIS — Del Oro High softball coach Jeff Pingree credits Roseville for lighting a spark under his team early last month at the Stephanie LeDoux Tournament. So even after Aspen Echelmeier’s majestic two-run home run to left field gave Del Oro a 6-1 lead in the sixth inning Thursday afternoon, Pingree wasn’t comfortable. It wasn’t until Jordan Courage struck out Roseville’s Lollie Fitzpatrick to end the game that Pingree could crack a smile and soak in a victory that locked up a third straight Sierra Foothill League title for the Golden Eagles. “Even with a 6-1 lead we never felt safe,” Pingree said. “They’re an explosive team. We lost to them at the LeDoux Tournament when we led 5-3 with two outs and two strikes in the seventh inning. We used that as a springboard after (spring) break. We’ve progressively gotten better since then.” The two teams could very well meet for a fifth time later this month at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Tournament in Sacramento. Roseville owns two non-league wins over Del Oro earlier this year. Two of the Tigers’ four losses this season have come at the hands of the Eagles, who played perhaps their best game of the season on Thursday. Courage, who gave up six hits and walked two, got stronger as the game progressed. She gave up an RBI-single to Fitzpatrick in the third inning, but it could have been much worse. Echelmeier gunned down a Roseville baserunner that had wandered too far off of second base just before Fitzpatrick’s hit. Tigers pitcher Delany Demello held the Eagles in check until the fourth. She hit Whitney Smith and Hanna Miller to start the inning. Ciera Clark then walked. Courage tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right field and Echelmeier drilled a double to right-center to give the Eagles the lead. Courage worked out of a two-on, two-out jam in the sixth inning and Echelmeier gave her plenty of cushion with her two-run blast in the bottom of the sixth. “We go to the same batting instructor, so I’m going to tell him all about it,” Courage said of Echelmeier’s day at the plate. Courage did not allow an extra-base hit all game. Pingree’s daughter Savannah was Del Oro’s ace last season, finishing with a 16-3 record. Courage notched her 14th win Thursday. “She was our backup the last two years and she’s come in and pitched really well,” Pingree said. “We’re starting to put it all together now.” The Golden Eagles will look to cap a perfect SFL campaign on Tuesday at Woodcreek. Then it’s off to the Division II playoffs, where they hope to wipe away the memories of a stunning first-round loss last season. “We know that wasn’t us in that game last year,” said Ciera Clark, who was honored Thursday along with fellow seniors Bianca Binns and Echelmeier. “We’ve been waiting to get back there and show what kind of team we are.”