Petaluma's softball T-Girls jumped to a slim first-inning lead and grimly made it hold up to grab a 3-1 win over dangerous Sonoma Valley in a fast-paced clash between two of the top teams in the Sonoma County League.
The streaking T-Girls put a quick run on the board in the first inning, and held on until the bottom of the sixth when a two-run single off the bat of first baseman Gina Barnacle gave the home nine a little more breathing room.
Sonoma roared back against winning pitcher Dana Thomsen with three hits and a run of its own to make everybody squirm a bit in the final inning, but a ground ball to Joelle Krist at second ended it with the tying runs aboard.
The game was played very quickly, with the last out coming after only one hour and 12 minutes with both teams playing as if they might miss a double cheeseburger giveaway at 5 p.m.. Almost every batter came to the plate first ball swinging, and it made for an entertaining spectator game.
The T-Girls, now 11-1 on the season, got a leadoff single by hot hitting Brie Gerhardt to open the game, and she scored on a sharp single by catcher Miranda Swanson.
Thomsen, the MVP of the Handley Cup in Hayward, pitched well enough to win most games, and scattered seven hits to keep her team ahead through the entire game. She struck out seven Dragons to pick up the victory.
The biggest threat for the Dragons prior to the final frame came when Julianna Gutierrez blasted an inning-opening double between two outfielders on the first pitch from Thomsen that she saw. Instead of bunting the tying run to third with the score 1-0, the Lady Dragons continued to flail away, and it eventually cost them.
With nobody out, Jordan Samson grounded sharply to Gerhardt at short, and the alert sophomore trapped the runner between second and third to take the Lady Dragons out of scoring position. It was the third fielding gem made by Gerhardt on the afternoon.
The tense contest moved along to the bottom of the sixth when the T-Girls struck for a pair of runs. Swanson and Meghan DeCoite reached base on a single and a walk. Both runners advanced on a sacrifice with Barnacle coming up.
Barnacle had gone without a hit, but the steady .345 hitter found a pitch in her wheelhouse and drove a ball sharply off the glove of Lady Dragon second baseman Samantha Richards to knock in two pivotal runs for the T-Girls.
Base hits by Ashley Vail, Gutierrez and Michelle Stovall of the Lady Dragons finally produced a run, and they threatened for more until the ground ball to Krist.
Gerhardt and Swanson continued at a hot pace for Petaluma with two hits each. Both players were named to the Standley Cup All-Tourney team during the weekend. Petaluma has now won 11 games in succession after opening the season with a loss to Pinole Valley.
Thomsen and her pitching opponent, Zoe Gaardner, allowed seven hits each, but the Petaluma defense was more than equal to the task in key sports during the game.
A frightening moment came in the bottom of the third inning when Gerhardt ripped a solid line drive that struck Gaardner directly near the waist, but she quickly gathered herself after a talk with Sonoma head coach Dean Merrill. The brief interruption didn't slow anything down, and the game sailed along to its conclusion.