Gregori High softball coach Kassey Govea hopes the rivalry with Enochs — and the Jaguars’ 37-game league winning streak — survives the move to the Central California Athletic League.
Both move into the newly-formed CCAL in the fall as part of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s latest realignment cycle, along with Modesto, Downey, Turlock and Pitman.
“It’s a great rivalry. They’re always a competitive team and a tough team to beat,” said Govea, who rejoined the program this season after serving as an assistant in 2015.
“With the leagues changing this coming season, I hope that rivalry stays alive. It’s an atmosphere and a part of Gregori softball.”
The rivals provided a thrilling finish to the short-lived Modesto Metro Conference, which will cease to exist in the fall.
Junior Kylie Cox belted a home run in the fourth inning and senior Hannah Hoffman swatted a two-run single to highlight a four-run sixth inning as the Jaguars punctuated another perfect league season with a 9-6 victory.
Gregori’s league winning streak spans four seasons. The Jaguars’ last loss was to Enochs on May 4, 2015.
“It was important to the girls,” Govea said of the streak. “I think they feel that they’ve got a legacy to carry on and they did a great job doing it.”
It was a test of their mettle, though.
Enochs finally got to starter and reigning league MVP Maikyla Nelson, plating four runs in the top of the sixth inning to tie the game.
The Eagles outhit the Jaguars, 12-11. Nelson went the distance in her 10th win, allowing a five earned runs on 12 hits. She struck out eight and walked none.
A former Pitman High and Modesto Junior College standout, Govea said her team’s confidence never wavered.
“Our girls were in it the whole time,” she said. “It wasn’t because we were kicking the ball or making errors. Enochs played good softball and we answered back.”
Hoffman was the difference-maker. She belted a bases-loaded single through the right side of the infield, scoring Cheyenne Juarez and Rosa Leguria with the eventual game-winning runs.
Govea praised Hoffman and the others seniors for their steady leadership. The Jaguars are captained by seven seniors, including: infielder Aaliyah Swan, outfielder Josephine Espinoza, outfielder/first baseman Tiana Lancaster; corner infielder Samantha Tognotti; catcher Liliana Delgado; Leguria, an outfielder/pitcher/second baseman; and Hoffman.
“The seniors, they’re very talented and very driven,” Govea said. “I’ve got some great girls who believe in themselves. When they believe, they’re capable of anything. ... They can beat any team out there.”
The Jaguars and other Stanislaus District title contenders will find out soon enough. The section is expected to release its playoff brackets on Thursday evening.