“I believe, you believe.”
The mantra of Riverbank High softball coach Cassi Ross resonated through the ears of her Lady Bruin players on March 14 as the team scrambled to vanquish a late deficit to rival Escalon.
Riverbank scored a pair of clutch runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to force an extra frame, then chipped in two scores in the bottom of the eighth to outlast Escalon’s lone score in the extra inning.
The last score surrendered a thrilling walk-off ending to Riverbank’s 9-8 triumph in the Trans-Valley League opener.
“It was a really good game,” Ross said. “Some things we need to clean up, but the girls never quit.”
Riverbank led 5-2 after five innings, but suddenly slipped behind when Escalon batters combined hits and Bruin errors for a five-run sixth inning.
Riverbank outhit Escalon 9-6, but allowed a Cougar triple and six unearned runs. Escalon plated seven against Riverbank’s freshman starter, Brianna Allen (three strikeouts), but allowed sophomore Yolanda Sandoval to steal the win after she surrendered just one run in the last two innings and kept the visiting Lady Cougars off balance with her speed to the plate.
The Riverbank hit parade was led by four multi-hit performers. Amy McDonald was 2 for 4 with two runs, a double and two RBIs. She knocked in the game-winner to send Riverbank into a frenzy in the eighth. Brittany Cody hit 2 for 3 with two RBIs and three runs. Sandoval was 2 for 3 with three runs while Allen landed two hits in four at bats. Tori Sandoval also belted an RBI double and scored the tying run in the seventh.
The game was a key victory for Riverbank, considering Escalon (6-3) beat returning Sac-Joaquin Section runner-up, Linden (6-3), Mother Lode League powerhouse Calaveras (5-2) and is likely to be in the hunt for a playoff qualification.
Riverbank (6-7-1) fell to Linden and was smarting from 1-3 showing in the Ceres Tournament. The Lady Bruins played surprising TVL stalwart, Orestimba (11-0), on the road Tuesday, though results were not available at press time.
Riverbank hosts Hilmar on Thursday, March 21.
Riverbank News editor Marg Jackson contributed to this report.