Casa Grande chased across four runs in the bottom of the second inning and the Lady Gauchos made it hold up for a 5-2 upset softball victory over visiting Petaluma on Tuesday. The much-needed win broke an eight-game losing steak against the T-Girls from across town, and it gave the jubilant Gauchos city bragging rights for the rest of the regular season.
With the score at 1-1 after the top of the second frame, the Gauchos went to work against Petaluma pitcher Emily O’Keefe who relieved starter Ava Chabot, who left the game with illness after the first inning. The big blow of the contest came off the bat of Brooklynne Hale, who put an exclamation mark on the rally with a two-run blast over the right-centerfield fence. The 5-1 lead appeared to rattle the T-Girls, and they could never put a big rally together in response.
The closest the T-Girls got was 5-2 in the last inning. An infield error brought up the tying run represented by hard-hitting sophomore Jaden Krist. Krist. who singled and doubled earlier, ended the drama with an infield out and joy unfolded on the east side of town.
Winning pitcher Kalia Awhohi went the distance for the Gauchos without giving up an earned run to the heavy-hitting Petaluma club. Three errors didn’t help, but right fielder Presley Ruoff helped out with a fine running catch to take a bid for extra bases away from Indya Smith.
The best defensive play of the afternoon came after a two-out single by Alexis Silinante in the top of the fifth. Krist followed by lining a shot to the left-field fence. Silinante was on the move and was waved in but the score never materialized.
Center fielder Alauna Rico peeled the ball off the fence and made a strong throw to shortstop Christina Wilson, who wheeled without hesitation and threw a strike to catcher Alex Lyons, who had just entered the game. Lyons made the sweeping tag and Awhohi went on to post the most important victory of the two-year stint of coach Scott Sievers.
“It was a big one for us, to be sure,” said Sievers. “We didn’t have a big turnout this season, and this will help. This gives us a 3-3 record, and we can take a few days off before getting busy for the tournament at Ukiah. We have been working on that relay for quite a few practice days and it paid off.”
Wilson reached base three times with a trio of base hits, and she scored two runs. Together with that spectacular throw on a cut-off play, it was a notable effort by the Gaucho shortstop.
Silinante continued to fill up the scorecard for the T-Girls with three safeties and a walk. She now has five hits in the first three games for the T-Girls.
The T-Girls (0-2-1) almost came all the way back in the final inning. One key hit might have turned the tide.
Hale was flattened on an infield collision at first base in the final inning, but she walked off the diamond without any help from the Gaucho staff.