Three seasons ago, Petaluma softball coach Kurt Jastrow called on sophomore pitcher Emily O’Keefe to slow down the Sonoma County League champion Analy express in the annual league post-season tournament. O’Keefe responded with a nifty shutout win for the T-Girls, and it prompted Jastrow to go to the well again this year.
The Tigers edged Petaluma by one game in the league standings this season, and the two teams met again for the SCL tournament title on Thursday. O’Keefe is now a senior, and it was one of her last outings after Petaluma edged Sonoma Valley, 6-5, in the tournament semifinal game on Wednesday.
O’Keefe did it again in Sebastopol, controlling the Analy bats when it counted as the T-Girls got a measure of revenge with a 3-1 win to capture the tournament title. This time, it was tougher as the Lady Tigers had runners aboard in every frame except the seventh. The frustrated regular-season champion Analy team stranded 10 players as the T-Girls defeated their rivals for the second time this season.
“I had a feeling before the game,” said a happy Jastrow. “She did it before, and we used our two other pitchers yesterday. Emily was great today.”
O’Keefe took advantage of a generous strike zone for both pitchers by getting out of several sticky situations when Analy had the tying runners on base.
“It’s good when the umpire looks for strikes,” she said. “The situation was the same for both pitchers. This game meant more to me because it came in my senior season. My screwball and fastball got me out of trouble today. I have been pitching to our catcher Ashley Ayers since we were eight years old. She caught a great game.”
Analy hurler Emily Dreyer also turned in an outstanding effort, but could not get past T-Girl slugger Jaden Krist. After striking out Krist on a called third strike in the second inning, Dreyer could only watch as the Petaluma sophomore lofted a home run over the left-field fence in the fourth frame to give her team the lead.
Two innings later, Krist came up following an infield error that allowed Chandler Mevis to reach first. The Tigers huddled near the circle with coach Nick Houtz, and decided not to intentionally walk the T-Girls shortstop.
The decision turned out badly as Krist drove the first pitch off the fence on a line drive to give the T-Girls a 2-0 advantage. Indya Smith followed with a loud double to right field that accounted for the third Petaluma run. The left-handed-hitting sophomore had a batting average of .356 going into the contest.
Analy battled back with a run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI hit by Payton Cords. Two runners were stranded on a fly ball to shortstop that ended the final Tiger threat of the afternoon.
Chloe Hadrich had two hits for the Tigers, who finished the regular season with a record of 15-10 and the Sonoma County League title. Analy out-hit the T-Girls 9-7.
“It was a good finish for us after starting the season 0-4,” said Jastrow. “Hopefully we get a seventh- or eighth-seed and one home game in the NCS playoffs.”
Petaluma ended the regular campaign with a mark of 16-9-1.
Petaluma advanced to the tournament finals by rallying from behind with two runs in their last chance to defeat Sonoma Valley, 6-5.