The Petaluma T-Girls softball team is back.
It looked like Petaluma’s highly regarded softball program had finally hit a rocky spring road when it lost four of its first five games, with the fifth being a tie. But since that start, the T-Girls have won 10 of their last 12 games and put themselves in a familiar position at the top of the Sonoma County League standings with a 6-1 record.
Sonoma Valley and Analy are tied with the T-Girls in the loss column with one league defeat each. Those black marks were put there by the T-Girls, who recently beat them both in back-to-back league games.
In a crucial game played last Thursday, visiting Petaluma cobbled together a one-run rally in the first inning and made it hold up for a tense 1-0 victory over Sonoma Valley.
In a return battle between two of the top softball teams in the Sonoma County League, fans had little reason to be disappointed. It was a snappy and well-played game from start to finish, and both clubs looked like contenders.
Petaluma pitcher Ava Chabot made the most of this opportunity to toss a complete-game shutout, and it could not have come at a better time. The T-Girls went into this one with a one-game deficit in the SCL after suffering a 4-3 league-opening loss to Sonoma Valley to open the season on their own diamond.
“I felt good warming up,” said a pleased Chabot. “It was nothing like the tournament game against Livingston last week when I couldn’t get anything up in the strike zone to start that game. It could have been that the balls at the Napa Tournament were wet because of the rain. This game today was one of the best I have thrown in high school.”
Chabot was hitting her spots through most of the game, and she got into a better rhythm as the game moved along. Twice the Dragons got two runners on board, but on both occasions the Petaluma hurler got out of the jam on ground-ball outs.
Only two Sonoma batters were retired on strikes, but the T-Girls played error-less softball to convert almost every ball put in play.
The best struck ball of the game by either team came in the bottom of the second inning, when Lyndsey Lee of Sonoma lofted a long fly ball with home-run potential in the direction of the left-center-field fence. Petaluma center fielder Chandler Mevis did what she has done best during the last two weeks by running full throttle and crashing over the collapsing fence to grab the ball for a spectacular catch.
The base umpire signaled that it was his call, and he clearly signaled Lee out on the defensive play of the game. Between innings, the same umpire quietly told the Petaluma base coach that, “They don’t come better than that, anywhere.”
After the contest, coach Kurt Jastrow got a huge cheer from the gathered T-Girls when he hinted that the home-run saving catch by Mevis had much to do with the victory.
The contest, however, belonged to Chabot. She got into a fluid rhythm, and she didn’t allow the Sonoma Valley hitters any hope of wildness to begin a rally. The Dragon hitters were hitting her pitches, and the T-Girls converted every ball hit close to them into outs.