TRACY -- When East Union High and Erin Arevalo beat St. Mary's 3-1 in Saturday morning's semifinal of the prestigious NorCal Classic, it put the Lancers in position to win a softball title and avenge a disappointing loss from a year ago.
The Lancers didn't let the opportunity slip away, as Arevalo struck out 11 and a triple by freshman catcher Brittany Lamar snapped a ninth-inning tie to lead EU to a 4-2 win over Oak Ridge in the title game at the Tracy Sports Complex.
"It didn't matter who we played, it was going to be a team that beat us last year," Arevalo said, noting Oak Ridge and Bear River were in the other semifinal. "Oak Ridge beat us here last year, and Bear River beat us for the (Sac-Joaquin) Section title."
Oak Ridge scored an unearned run in the eighth a year ago to beat Arevalo and the Lancers 1-0, and it looked as though the Trojans might win again Saturday when they took a 2-1 lead into the seventh.
Kourtni McCall doubled with one out, however, and scored on Brionna Goulart's single to right-center to push the game into extra innings. The international tiebreaker began in the eighth -- each team opens its inning with a runner on second base -- but both pitchers emerged unscathed.
In the top of the ninth, though, freshman Jillian Goulart raced home when Lamar lined the first pitch off the left-field fence. East Union (13-2), The Bee's top-ranked large school, added an insurance run on McCall's two-out single.
Oak Ridge went down in the bottom of the ninth, and the celebration began.
"I'm surprised from the standpoint that the competition is so stiff, with great pitching and defensive teams," Lancers coach Brian Goulart said. "This is the culmination of our team's improvement, with Erin maturing into a great pitcher and our younger players producing. This is a breakthrough moment."
Arevalo, who has signed a letter of intent with the University of Georgia, struck out 11 in each game. That raised her state-leading strikeout total to 226 -- she was The Bee's Player of the Year after striking out a state-high 430 as a junior.
Oak Ridge scored two unearned runs in the first but went scoreless over the next eight innings. In the opener, St. Mary's scored in the first on an error before being shut out the rest of the way.
"We needed to show Oak Ridge that we were the better team this year," said Arevalo, who allowed six hits total Saturday. "We all felt we should have won last year's game, so this was a chance to make up for that."
Arevalo and McCall were named to the all-tournament team with McCall going 4 for 5 in the championship game. Lamar, whose work behind the plate drew raves from Arevalo and Brian Goulart, also had two RBIs in the morning victory.
"This is the first time since 2003 that we've had someone who wanted to play catcher," Brian Goulart said. "We'd been begging players to go behind the plate, because it's a job most girls don't want to do. Without Brittany, we don't win this."
Lamar played on EU's summer team, giving her an opportunity to get used to Arevalo's repertoire.
"They trained together on their own, too, so this is a great reward," Goulart said.
In other tournament games:
MODESTO CHRISTIAN 10, ORESTIMBA 6 -- The Crusaders totaled 13 hits with Brittany Thompson going 2 for 4 with four RBIs. Julianna Santos of Orestimba was 4 for 4 with two homers, a double, three runs and three RBIs.
MODESTO CHRISTIAN 5, OAKDALE 4 -- In a consolation bracket title game, Sloan McHann doubled twice and drove in three runs for MC, including two in a four-run third that broke a 1-1 tie.
The Bee sports staff contributed to this report.