What a year: Top stories of 2012

It was a year to remember in Petaluma, one of deep lows and elevated highs. The community had its share of grief: a longtime Petaluma resident was arrested for allegedly swindling his friends and neighbors out of millions of dollars and a beloved school teacher was tragically shot and killed. But the community also had a big share of joy in the come-from-behind story of the Petaluma National Little League team. Following is a summary of the most compelling stories of 2012, as compiled by the Argus-Courier staff.

Nationals capture Petaluma's imagination: Perhaps no other sports team ever had the impact on Petaluma that a group of 13-year-old baseball players had last summer.

The Petaluma National Little League All-Star players, 12 years old when they started the season on their various teams in March, and most of them 13 by the time they finished third in the Little League World Series in August, captured the attention and the hearts of not only Petalumans, but people from around the Bay Area and throughout the state.

The team was the first from Petaluma ever to reach the Little League World Series and its reputation grew with each game it played in Williamsport, PA.

Ironically, the game that captured the attention of the nation and the one for which the Petalumans will always be remembered was one of just two they lost (while winning five).

Trailing by 10 runs going into their last scheduled at bats against Goodlettsville, Tenn., the Petalumans refused to quit, scoring 10 runs for a tie to force extra innings.

Tennessee rallied to win the game and the U.S. championship, 24-16, but it was the Petalumans who made national headlines with their historic comeback.

Petaluma went on to take third place by beating Panama, 12-4.

The Little Leaguers returned home to a two-month celebration that included a parade through downtown Petaluma; trips to Giants and A's games; proclamations from city, county, state and national officials; a private meeting with Major League manager Tony La Russa; and gifts of rings fashioned on the model of those given to Super Bowl champions.

Violence that shocked a community: April 15 started off as a sunny spring day in Petaluma, but it ended with a community in shock and grief over the murder-suicide of Kimberly Baucom Conover by her estranged husband, Kevin Conover.

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