ESCALON -- Moments earlier, Lounette Jackson had committed an error that could have been fatal to Escalon High's bid for a Trans-Valley League title.
"When I make a mistake, I get a big handful of dirt and squeeze it," the Cougars' shortstop said. "When that dirt's gone, so is any memory of what went wrong."
Good thing, too, because Jackson was given an opportunity to redeem herself and was flawless.
With the bases full and no outs in the seventh, Jackson speared a grounder and her throw to the plate beat the runner by a step.
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Freshman Caitlin Brooks then struck out the next two batters, sealing the Cougars' 1-0 win over Modesto Christian and sparking a wild celebration in the infield.
"I was glad to see that ball coming at me, because I've made the play a hundred times," Jackson said. "I don't think about it, I just react and make a strong throw."
Jackson had let a throw pop out of her glove early in the seventh, helping MC load the bases.
Escalon (17-8, 12-3) will share its title with the Crusaders (21-6, 12-3) , but the Cougars get the top seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs. MC will go as No. 2 and Hughson as No. 3.
While Escalon will face a No. 3 seed (Summerville), MC plays defending champ Orestimba (23-3) on Tuesday. Hughson plays Linden and Hilmar faces Calaveras.
While Jackson's play was crucial, it was Jordon Costa's RBI double in the fourth that put the Cougars in position for the win.
Leadoff hitter Audree Mendez opened the inning with a single, and was still at first two outs later. The left-handed Costa then ripped an outside fastball over the left fielder's head and Mendez sprinted around the bases.
"By this time of the season, no one's throwing meat across the plate, so I was looking on the edges," Costa said. "I'll go opposite field if that's what they throw."
That was the lone mistake for MC pitcher Kendell Taylor, who allowed only two other hits. Brooks outdueled her for the second time in three weeks, though.
Brooks no-hit MC in a 2-0 win in April and scattered four hits Friday. She struck out six, didn't walk a batter and held Sloan McHann -- second in the region with seven homers and 46 RBIs -- to a single in three at-bats.
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www.modbee.com. Bee staff writer Richard T. Estrada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.