STOCKTON-The Calaveras Redskins fell to the Escalon Cougars 5-0 on Thursday in the first round of the 2013 Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Softball Championships at Arnaiz Stadium.
"We're a young team and have so much potential for next season along with the one after that," said Calaveras sophomore Marissa Hukkanen, who closed out the final two innings on the mound. "But this was still really tough."
The loss brought an end to the Redskins' season in which they captured the 2013 Mother Lode League softball crown and earned a No. 1 seed in the playoffs - all without a single senior on the squad.
"We told the girls at the end that you can't judge your season based on one game, especially since seven other teams have their last game in the playoffs as well," said Redskins head coach Mike Koepp, who just completed his inaugural season at the helm of Calaveras varsity softball.
Koepp added, "I'm happy with the fact that we won the Mother Lode League, and a competitive Mother Lode League at that. We beat the two-time defending champions Argonaut three times. We didn't take care of business against Linden, but somebody else helped us out. We did what we needed to do to win the league and we've got everybody coming back, so you can't argue with that."
On Wednesday, Redskin pitcher Megan Walters kept the Cougars scoreless through two innings. Escalon third baseman Alexandria Hernandez hit an RBI-single in the third for the game's first run.
Walters proved she was ready for a battle in the fourth inning, striking out three Cougars in-a-row to leave Escalon lead-off hitter Illiana Cajias, who opened the frame with a single, stranded on third base and kept the score at a manageable 1-0.
However, Cougar pitcher Marissa Dominguez retired the side with three straight strikeouts during the home half and Escalon added two runs in the fifth inning to extend their lead.
Dominguez recorded 13 strikeouts in her complete game effort.
"Her curveball was definitely a killer but I think we just needed to have more confidence at the plate," said Calaveras sophomore Kelly Volken.
Volken along with Calaveras juniors Jennifer Scantlen and Grace Carr each singled to account for the Redskins' three total hits.
Scantlen said there were positive moments for her and her team throughout the game, but they "didn't play consistently enough" to pull out the win. However, she thinks the future looks bright for Calaveras.
"Our batting was strong throughout the year and our defense, pitching and everything else kind of came together as well," she said. "Even though this was a hard loss, we'll have all returners next year and it should be a good season."