ERIE — Eaglecrest softball coach Yvette Hendrian moved Rachel Sabourin back to the three-hole, and man did it pay off.
No. 2 Eaglecrest rode the bats of Sabourin and Kailey Wilson to a 5-2 win over No. 9 Ralston Valley in the Erie Tournament of Champions.
"I feel more comfortable there," Sabourin said about the change. "I know my two teammates ahead of me are really good hitters and they know how to get on base. And Kailey behind me, if I don't get on, she's a good hitter as well. I know they'll pick me up."
Sabourin went 2-for-4 with two homeruns and three runs-batted-in.
A solid effort on the mound by Mackenzie Hochstetler held the Mustang offense down, while Sabourin and Kailey Wilson did the offensive damage.
"We just have to make sure we keep our bats going," Hendrian said. "Our bats are our biggest weapons. I've got some great hitters on my team. As long as we can keep that going, we'll be fine."
Sabourin gave Eaglecrest a 2-run lead in the first inning with a homerun to left-center.
"A homerun is always great momentum," Hendrian said. "I have (Sabourin) and I've got (Wilson) following up behind her, and I've got three more that can bat the ball over the fence."
Then, it was Wilson's turn.
Wilson smoked a line drive to right that got out in a hurry and Eaglecrest took a 4-1 lead.
"Anytime we can start getting that going, it's kind of fun to watch because they kick in and respond," Hendrian said. "It's fun to watch them duel it out a little bit. They also know they've got a job to do and make sure that we keep good approaches at the plate and make things happen offensively."
Not to be outdone, Sabourin went out and hit her second homerun for good measure. That put the Raptors up 5-2 in the top of the 7th.
"I just told myself to stay short," Sabourin said. "It was a 3-1 count and I thought just look for your pitch. It was a pitch up in the zone, so I wanted to attack it and stay short to the ball."
Hochstetler went seven innings strong with no earned runs.
Ralston Valley's Abri Trujillo went 2-for-2 with two walks in the loss.
"I thought we came out pretty solid (in the tournament), except for our first game," Hendrian said. "We had some mental issues going on in that first game. They settled down, we were able to get them back on track. All in all, we're still making some mistakes that I would like to fix, but for where we are in the beginning of the season, we're in a good spot."
Eaglecrest went 3-1 in the Erie Tournament of Champions, composed of 14 teams ranked in the CHSAANow.com preseason softball rankings.
"We know what to expect now, playing these top teams," Sabourin said. "It gives us a better look into what we need to work on. There's always little things we can work on."
Hendrian's team is now 6-1 to start the season with wins over No. 6 Douglas County, No. 7 Legend, Class 4A No. 5 Erie and now No. 9 Ralston Valley.
"Our schedule is pretty tough in the beginning," Hendrian said. "All our opponents have been top teams, which is what we want. We want that so we know where we stand. Anything can happen between now and October. Right now, we're concentrating on our first third of the season."
The Raptors have to power, the offense, the pitching. But Hendrian wants to focus on the mental part of the game for her team.
"It's more of a mental game for us right now than it is physical. They've got the physical part, hands down. Now its, how to we stay here? How do we not peak too early?"