Petaluma shook off some early scoring frustration and rallied in the final innings for a 5-1 win over visiting Ukiah in a well-played softball game Saturday afternoon between Empire playoff teams from last season.
The T-Girls trailed 1-0 going into the bottom of the fifth inning after stranding eight runners after two complete rotations of the batting order. Twice Petaluma left the bases loaded without getting the clutch hit when in counted.
T-Girl pitcher Dana Thomsen bounced back from a ragged performance in her last game to keep her team in the hunt, but it began to look like one of those days when runs by her teammate would be at a dangerous premium.
Ukiah applied even more pressure when the Lady Wildcats scored a run with some daring base running in the top of the fourth inning following a leadoff double by Courtney Gordon. Gordon was advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt on the next pitch.
Thomsen then got Emily Brooks to hit a soft foul ball toward the screen behind first base. With her back to the infield, Petaluma second baseman Joelle Krist made an over the shoulder catch, but an alert Brooks got the go ahead from base coach Gary Venturi, and beat the late throw to the plate.
Finally in the fifth inning, the T-Girls put something together with their bats, and it took some inspiration from sophomore catcher Miranda Swanson to open the scoring. Swanson, batting in the key third slot in the order, got a pitch to her liking to lead off the inning and drove it over the center field fence to quickly knot the game, and it appeared to get her team rolling.
Meghan DeCoite followed with a base hit that rolled a short distance away from the right fielder for a triple. The hustling DeCoite jumped up and scored when the relay on the play sailed over third baseman Haley Higgens.
Thomsen kept the rally going with a single, and was driven home by a two-out single by Giana Moretti.
Overall, the hot hitting T-Girls got at least one hit in each of their six turns at bat, and finished with 11 for the game. DeCoite had four hits, including a double in the sixth frame when Petaluma scored two more runs. Krist had an RBI in the inning, and she was credited with three hits for the contest.
Thomsen was back in form for Petaluma,striking out nine Wildcat batters in a veteran lineup featuring eight seniors from a team that finished 18-6 last season and third in the North Bay League. Thomsen allowed only three hits in seven innings of work.
"Dana told me that she was feeling well after the game with Rancho Cotate," said Petaluma coach Kurt Jastrow, "I told her to let us know a little earlier because we knew something was not right in that game."
Thomsen used an economy of pitches in this game, and retired the side in order in four innings.
On Thursday Petaluma (3-1) will continue a demanding pre-league schedule when the T-Girls travel to Concord to face defending North Coast Section Division III champion Concord. The T-Girls split with the Minutemen last season, losing a difficult 2-1 decision in the NCS finals.