Skip to main content

Elk Grove Citizen

Eagles Tame the Flames to Reach Semifinals

May 23, 2024 03:43PM ● By Alejandro Barron

Lindsay Paredes fist-bumps her teammate and starting pitcher Madeline Lawson following a Little League home run where she circled the bases on errors from the Lodi Flames. This was during the quarterfinal matchup of the Sac-Joaquin Section softball playoffs on May 16, 2024. Photo by Alejandro Barron

ELK GROVE, CA (MPG) - In the Division I quarterfinals, the No. 3 seed Pleasant Grove Eagles defeated the No. 6 seed Lodi Flames by a score of 3-0 to leave them as the lone local school in this bracket. 
The pitching was dominated by junior Madeline Lawson who pitched a complete game shutout with eight strikeouts. 
“She was on her game today and that’s what she does with mixing it up well: keeps them on their toes and uses all nine quadrants of the zone,” said head coach of the Eagles Brian Cherry. 
Lawson did this without being 100% as Cherry said that his starting pitcher was sore and dealing with tendinitis, but he said even then she was outstanding. 
The battery of Lawson and senior Grace Cable has been key to the success of the Eagles’ pitching throughout this whole season, Cherry said. 
“She’s (Cable) caught 95% of our games and that makes a big difference when she learns the pitcher and the pitcher is confident with her, so it definitely makes a big difference having her catch Madeline all year long,” Cherry said. 
The modern-day method of receiving for catchers is something that Cable does well, as she starts her mitt below the zone and works her hands up with the ball as it’s being caught to be able to steal strikes for her pitchers. This has helped throughout the season, Cherry said. 
“It’s new for the catchers, it’s new for the umpires and it’s definitely changing our sport because from NCAA down it’s catching on,” Cherry said. 
As for the offense, this was a big drop-off from the 12 runs they put up against the McClatchy Lions in the first round..
“We had nine or 10 flyouts today and we just didn’t make the adjustment so we were popping up a lot today even if we kept talking about; it we couldn’t adjust but we took advantage of some of their errors but we’re a much better-hitting team than what we showed today,” Cherry said. 
Despite that, Cherry said they had a lot of solid contact on fly balls that were hit in the air but got caught because of the wind pushing in. 
An RBI single in the first inning from senior Riley Bigley put the Eagles up early with the runner getting on base thanks to an error from the Flames. 
“That definitely deflates a team when you come up right up in the first inning and score then we held them and our first run came off of an error dropped in the outfield, so it definitely changes the tempo for us in a positive way,” Cherry said. 
The offense for the Eagles was sealed by a Little League home run with a combo of errors from the Flame that scored two runs on a hit from senior Lindsay Paredes.
The Eagles will take on the No. 2 seed and reigning section champions Oak Ridge Trojans in the semifinals, and although these two haven’t faced each other, they have faced opponents that the Eagles can learn from.
The Trojans took down the Sheldon Huskies twice by a score of 9-1, 6-0 and the Cosumnes Oaks Wolfpack by a score of 8-0 earlier in the season. 
“We haven’t played them this year or in a few years actually and they’re ranked No. 2 for  a reason,” Cherry said. “We’ll be ready for them and bring our A game.” 
Last year, the Eagles were the No. 1 seed and were eliminated in the semifinals by the Inderkum Tigers to just miss out on taking on the Trojans in the section championship game.
The Eagles will travel to take on the Trojans at 5 p.m. May 20 to potentially move on to the section championship game for the first time since 2014.