Maria Carrillo broke open a tight game in the top of the sixth inning with a punishing rally to topple host Casa Grande, 12-2, in the first North Bay League softball game for both clubs.
The Pumas led only 2-0 in the sixth, but touched up Casa starting pitcher Shelby Foakes for three unearned runs before she was removed in favor of reliever Kayleigh Hart. Foakes went into the inning with three consecutive hitless innings before disaster struck.
An infield error, followed by a single to shallow center field led to a big turning point in the game. A ground ball up the middle off the bat of Lauren Piehoff, which might have been converted to a force out, bounced off the glove of Foakes and the Puma rally picked up momentum.
All three runners eventually scored to make it 5-0 before Hart was summoned into the contest by Lady Gaucho coach Joanna Martin. Carrillo tacked on two more runs, and added five more in the seventh inning to turn the game into a rout.
The red hot Pumas came into the game riding the crest of a three-game win sweep in capturing the Ukiah Tournament title over the weekend. Carrillo is now 7-3 to start the season.
All of the Gaucho offense against starter Robin Johnson came in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Center fielder Sara Langton led off the frame by legging out a bunt to the left side of the infield. Langton was advanced to second base on a solid single by Lisa Nadell.
After the first Casa run scored on an infield error, Hart cranked up the loudest hit of the chilly afternoon when her drive bounced high off the center field fence to plate the second run in the frame. Casa could not cash in the runners from second and third, and a threat to climb back into the game ended.
A frightening moment occurred in the top of the fourth inning when a wicked one-hop drive bounced off the neck of Foakes. She reacted quickly by throwing out the runner before a convoy of concerned Gauchos went to the rubber to check on her well being. After a few minutes, there were smiles all around and the young Casa pitcher finished a scoreless frame.
The best defensive play of the game was turned in by Gaucho second baseman Christina Wilson. Wilson, playing in only her second varsity game, lunged to her left to snare a hard ground ball off the bat of Hannah Chew in time to throw out the runner at first base.
Johnson went the distance to earn the victory for the Pumas. She scattered six Gaucho hits while striking out six batters.
Shortstop Brittany Veler led the Pumas with four hits and scored three runs. Carrillo finished with 10 hits.
Lexi Hale had two singles for the Lady Gauchos.
On Saturday, Casa Grande earned its first victory of the season when the Gauchos traveled to Napa High and came away with a narrow 6-5 victory. Casa is 1-5-1 for the season.