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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaThe California Pintos softball team defeated Russellville 9-1 on the Lady Pintos’ Senior Night on Sept. 3. California is undefeated in its first three games of the season.

The California Pintos softball team won its third game in a row Sept. 3 to open the season as the Lady Pintos defeated the Russellville Indians 9-1 on the team's Senior Night. The Pintos move to 3-0 on the year, while Russellville is now 3-1 on the season.

Indians head coach Lucas Branson said there were a couple of things the team could take away from its first loss.

"The takeaways from this game (were) simply that we needed to have better execution in a couple of areas against a very good team," Branson said. "We were close but they put pressure on us early and we didn't fully make the plays we needed to."

California jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as, with two runners on with two outs, Ella Percival scored two runs on a base hit to give California the lead. The score remained the same until the bottom of the third inning, as Ellie Clay hit a solo home-run to left field to make it a 3-0 game.

Pintos head coach Steven Stock said playing with a lead early can help the team play with more confidence and enthusiasm.

"After taking the 2-0 lead in the first (inning) then following up with three runs in both the third and fourth innings, (that) allowed our team to play with confidence and an understanding that we just needed to get outs and keep having good at-bats," Stock said.

California scored another run to make it 4-0, and a base hit by Mariah Mills made it a 5-0 game before the end of the third inning.

Russellville got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth inning after a double by Claire Duenckel gave the Indians a runner in scoring position with two outs. Duenckel scored on a single by Ryleigh Case to give the Indians their only run in the game and make it 5-1.

Even with being down multiple runs early in the game, Branson said the team continued to have quality at-bats.

"We kept trying to make sure we had quality at-bats and I felt like overall, we did a decent job doing that," Branson said. "We put the ball in play and California is a good defensive team that made plays when they needed to."

California responded with another three-run inning in the bottom of the fourth to make it 8-1.

Stock said the Pintos did a good job with their at-bats and competed every time they were at the plate.

"We executed well with the short game and followed that with some big hits in key situations, which allowed us to score runs," Stock said. "Russellville is a very good softball team and our girls were able to put together good at-bats and combined with playing well on defense (to allow) us to get the win."

Russellville had a good chance of getting back in the game in the top of the sixth inning, as they loaded the bases with just one out in the inning. However, California pitcher Camryn Schlup was able to get her team out of the jam by getting the second out on a strike out and forcing a pop up by home plate that was caught by Lauren Hill to end the inning with the score still 8-1. Schlup pitched seven innings, walking two batters and striking out four.

California added one more run in the bottom half of the sixth inning to make it a 9-1 contest before ending the game with a scoreless top of the seventh.

California finished the game with nine runs on 10 hits and no errors. Ellie Clay, Lauren Hill, Ella Percival and Mariah Mills all had two hits for the Pintos. Percival also led the Pintos with five RBIs in the game. Russellville finished with one run on seven hits and had three errors in the game.

California's next game is at 5 p.m. Sept. 10 against Iberia. Russellville's next game is at 5 p.m. tonight on the road at Dixon.

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