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T-Girls softball on a roll


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.

Pitching gem

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.

Hot-hitting freshman shortstop Aly Alcayaga (.444) was the only Dragon to solve Chabot, collecting three singles.

The only scoring in the contest came in the first inning, when Petaluma shortstop Emily O’Keefe reached base on a book-rule single when her hard-hit ball bounced off Mevis heading for second base. O’Keefe advanced on a walk to Jaden Krist.

First-year player Kaleigh Weiand then bounced a short-hop line drive that ate up the Dragon second baseman for a hit, plating O’Keefe. The run would hold up for the rest of the game.

Petaluma outhit Sonoma Valley, 5-4, led by two singles off the bat of Krist.

Play was suddenly halted in the top of the second inning when Dragon pitcher Jenna Ebert was struck near the face mask by a line drive back to the circle off the bat of Mevis. The ball never hit the ground and was caught in the air at first base. Ebert was able to walk briskly from the field after being checked out.

Monday win

This week, the T-Girls used one big inning to tame Analy’s surprised Tigers, 5-3, on the Petaluma diamond.

Playing under threating but never dripping skies, Petaluma bats slumbered through three innings before finally awakening for a four-run fifth frame and the win.

Analy pitcher Emily Dryer kept the T-Girls checked through the first three innings, allowing just one hit.

Analy, by contrast, had Chabot in trouble in each of the first two innings, leaving two runners stranded in the first and the bases packed in the second. When the starting pitcher gave up back-to-back singles with one out in the third, Jastrow quickly went to O’Keefe.

She was less than an immediate sensation, giving up two hits and a walk as three runs scored for the Tigers.

However, that was all the visitors got. Although she allowed runners in each of the last four innings, O’Keefe, backed by a solid defense, pitched out of jams in each frame, blanking Analy the rest of the way.

Analy handed Petaluma a run in the fourth when Krist reached base on an error and Kaleigh Weiand’s single that went past the Tiger center fielder, allowing Krist to score from first.

The bottom of the Petaluma order started the T-Girls game-deciding, fifth-frame rally. Emma Weiand singled and Grace Ghirardelli walked to set the table, and Alexa Silinante delivered the scoring meal, ripping a shot down the right-field line for a two-run double.

The hit was part of a big day for the senior team leader, who walked twice and blasted a long drive that bashed into the net fence in right field, just a foot or so from being a home run.

“I’m not a home run hitter,” the T-girl lead-off batter said. “I’m patient. I only want to hit strikes.”

O’Keefe brought Silinante in with a double of her own and eventually scored on an Analy error.

O’Keefe and her defense made sure the runs held up.

“I knew we would eventually hit,”Jastrow said. “There is one thing we can do — hit.

“We didn’t play very well in the first three innings. Maybe it was because it was a Monday game. For some reason we don’t play well in Monday games.”

The T-Girls might have broken half that curse this week, playing well enough to record a big SCL win — at least for half a game.

Non-league win

In between the two key SCL wins, Petaluma found time to edge North Bay League power Ukiah, 5-4. Ukiah is in second place in the NBL and has an impressive 15-5 overall record.

Krist pitched the win, allowing just five hits while pitching the seven-inning distance. She walked three and struck out three.

Petaluma seemingly had the game in hand with a 4-0 lead through four innings, but Ukiah rallied for four runs and a tie in the fifth. The T-Girls answered with a run in the bottom of the sixth that stood as the game-winner.

Petaluma had eight hits in the game, with Krist accounting for two of them and driving home three of her team’s five runs.