Petaluma High's T-Girl softball team is a contradiction — it is veteran, but it is young. There is nothing contradictory about the T-Girls' outlook — they are good and they are going to be successful. Petaluma has just three seniors on its roster, but it has several players returning from the team that won the Sonoma County League championship and played in the North Coast Section championship game last season. The veterans are supplemented by a bevy of outstanding sophomores who are meshing nicely with the returning veterans. The result has been a 5-1 pre-league season against mostly East Bay powerhouse teams going into the start of the SCL season.

Two of the Petaluma seniors are in the pitchers' circle and Dana Thomsen and Gina Barnacle give the T-Girls two of the best pitchers in the Redwood Empire. Thomsen is expected to take the ball in the big games. She has already agreed to pitch next year at Humboldt State. There is little loss of effectiveness when the hard-throwing Barnacle pitches. The duo is likely to alternate throughout the league season. "Dana is pitching lights out," Petaluma coach Kurt Jastrow said. "Gina had an injury earlier, and we have been taking our time getting her into pitching shape, but she will pitch a lot for us."

If things go well, sophomore Katie Bisges will also get pitching time behind the two seniors. She has already won a game for Petaluma pitching in relief against a good hitting Rancho Cotate team.

An important addition to the Petaluma lineup is sophomore catcher Miranda Swanson. She has shown she can handle the job defensively, and there was never any doubt about her hitting.

In addition, "She really sets our infield dynamics up," Jastrow says.

What he means is that Swanson's development as a catcher allows sophomore Brie Gerhardt, one of the Redwood Empire's most talented all-around players, to move from catcher to her preferred position at shortstop. With Gerhardt at shortstop, the Petaluma inner defense is almost ground-ball proof with Barnacle returning to first base and sophomore Joelle Krist, a starter as a freshman, back at second. Another sophomore, Meghan DeCoite, is at third.

"Joelle is just a great athlete," Jastrow says. "She can play second or shortstop and is a great hitter. We expect Meghan to be one in a long line of outstanding third baseman at Petaluma."

Jastrow has several choices — all good — in the outfield. Junior Gianna Moretti is hitting better this year and, along with sophomore Taylor Kerrigan, she gives Petaluma two athletes with exceptional speed. Bisges, an excellent all-around athlete, who was the Sonoma County League's Most Valuable Player in basketball, will play in the outfield except when she pitches.

Kerrigan is a strong defensive outfielder, who is a work in progress as a hitter. "We're trying to do something with her we've never done with a hitter," Jastrow explains. "We've turned her around to make her a left-handed hitter, and are trying to get her to bunt and slap the ball so we can utilize her speed. She's beginning to get it. No one works harder than she does."

Sophomore Cassie Baddeley brings a good bat and speed to the mix. She will play first base when Barnacle pitches and also plays in the outfield.

Then there is senior Nicole Wiecks, a co-captain who will play somewhere. "She can do anything," Jastrow says. "She can play second base, shortstop or in the outfield. She will also be our third catcher. Anywhere we put her, she is a good player."

Jastrow is carrying one freshman, Paulina Binsfield, and he is impressed with how quickly she is learning varsity life. "I've never seen a player pick up things so fast," the coach says. "She works hard and is a very quick learner. We have high hopes for her."

Although the batting order is different this season, one of the things Petaluma has already shown it can do is hit from top-to-bottom in its order.

Gerhardt leads off and may be the team's most consistent all-around hitter. "She makes great contact and is a great base runner," Jastrow says. The coach says Wiecks, who hits second, is the team's best bunter.

The power spots are filled by Swanson, DeCoite and Krist. After the power, there are a number of quality hitters, each capable of supplying a key hit at any time. Barnacle, Bisges, Thomsen, Kerrigan, Moretti and Baddeley can all hit.

Jastrow credits the T-Girls continuing success to his coaching staff — Jim Marino, Gary Anderson and junior varsity coach Scott Sievers. "They are exceptional coaches," Jastrow says. "Without them, we would not be where we are. With Jim and Gary I don't consider it as me and two assistants, but three coaches, and Scott does a great job with the junior varsity preparing the players for the varsity."