STOCKTON -- Hilmar High pitcher Courtney Ramos didn't need to say a word: The ice pack on her right shoulder said it all.
"I can't remember the last time I threw back-to-back games without a break," the senior said. "If I'm going to do it, though, this is the time and place that I'll do it."
Ramos capped a busy Tuesday with a two-hitter, striking out 13, as Hilmar upset Escalon 1-0 at Arnaiz Stadium to reach the winners' bracket final of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV softball playoffs.
The Yellowjackets (19-5), who began the day by beating Calaveras 2-1 in eight innings, face rival Orestimba (25-3) on Friday at 5 p.m. at Arnaiz Stadium. Orestimba, the defending section champion, also went 2-0 to earn its berth.
Hilmar was second to Orestimba in the Western Athletic Conference, losing twice to the Warriors. Hilmar also lost to Escalon this season, so the 'Jackets have been in this situation before.
Even after eight stress-filled innings against Calaveras -- first-round losers go home, so there was no margin for error -- Ramos said there was no way she was going to sit out the second game.
"I went inning by inning, a batter at a time, so I wasn't thinking of this as a seven-inning game," said Ramos, who struck out 17 to beat Calaveras. "We're young, just two seniors, so people are probably surprised we're here."
Ramos also scored the lone run when she singled to center in the third and raced around the bases on Stesha Brazil's double. Those were the only hits allowed by Escalon freshman Caitlin Brooks.
Escalon (18-9), which faces Linden (22-4) at 5 p.m. Friday in the losers' bracket, had runners on in each of the final two innings -- but neither got to third base.
"The last few innings, it got intense because a 1-0 score is a lot like 0-0," Ramos said. "One mistake, one bad pitch and it's tied. I convinced myself to stay calm."
Escalon, which won the Trans-Valley League title, had the potential tying run on second with two out in the bottom of the seventh, but Ramos wrapped it up by retiring the final batter on a groundout.
In first-round games, with the losers being eliminated:
HILMAR 2, CALAVERAS 1 (8) -- Ramos' 17 strikeouts helped the Yellowjackets upset the Redskins (22-7). Brazil was 3 for4, including a two-out single in the top of the eighth. Ashlee Lee followed with a blooper in front of second, and shortstop Tanna Bindi fired wildly to first base, allowing Brazil to circle the bases to make it 2-1. Calaveras had tied it on Giovanna Vasile's sixth-inning double.
ESCALON 3, SUMMERVILLE 1 -- Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Cynthia Freitas belted a two-run double to the left-field fence and then scored on Hillary Jones' grounder to get Escalon past the Bears (14-10).
Brooks fired a one-hitter with 15 strikeouts, fanning the final seven batters.
ORESTIMBA 5, MODESTO CHR. 1 -- Candice Caetano and Lacey Kohl combined for four doubles and five RBIs as the Warriors topped MC (21-7).
Kohl's RBI doubles hit the left-field line, and her second made it 3-0 in the fifth after Juliana Santos was intentionally walked to put runners on first and second. Freitas followed with a liner that raced past the second baseman and to the fence, making it 5-0.
LINDEN 3, HUGHSON 2 -- With the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the seventh, Brianna Yray's liner got past a diving second baseman to deliver the tying and winning runs, as the Lions beat the Huskies (15-8). Aly Hoffman had both Hughson RBIs, including a sacrifice fly in the sixth to score Alyssa Aqueche for a 2-1 lead.