T-Girls fall short in NCS playoff setback

Down and almost out for the 10 count, the Petaluma High softball team picked itself up and battled back Tuesday evening, eventually losing by a 12-6 decision to Newark Memorial’s Lady Cougars in the first round of the North Coast Section Division 2 playoffs.

There were some extenuating circumstances in the end to the Petaluma season - like early line drives directed straight into Lady Cougar gloves - but on this day, Newark Memorial was the better team.

In fact, the visiting team was within three outs of ending the game in the sixth inning via the 10-run mercy rule, holding a 12-2 lead, but pride and freshman Rachel Bles refused to let that happen.

Bles lined a shot over the center-field fence with teammate Brooke Symons aboard for a game-prolonging two runs.

Determined to the end, the T-Girls worked hard in their final swings of the season, scoring two more runs in the seventh.

Senior Chandler Mevis sacrificed a chance for a hit in her last Petaluma at bat, working a walk to start the rally. A Grace Ghirardelli single, a walk to Logan Pomi and a clutch two-run single by Symons provided the runs before the inevitable end came on a ground out to glove-sparkling Newark shortstop Haylee Nelson.

“I was proud of the way we came back,” said Petaluma coach Kurt Jastrow. “We kept fighting right to the end.

“You have to hand it to Newark Memorial, they hit the heck out of the ball. We hit some shots early in the game that went right to them that might have made a difference.”

For the game, Petaluma had nine hits and spanked several hard grounders at the ball-tight Newark infielders. The Lady Cougars had 11 hits off T-Girl pitchers Mandi O’Keefe and Bles, including home runs by Savanna Swickward and Nelson.

Newark Memorial scored in big gulps, getting three runs in each of the second, third, fifth and sixth innings.

Swickward sent a shot well over the center field fence to key the second-inning rally. Nelson, who hit for the cycle, drove in two runs with the least of her four hits in the third. Back-to-back doubles by Marissa Alveraz and Swickward, followed by Nelson’s triple accounted for a trio of runs in the fifth and Nelson swatted her homer during the three-run sixth that nearly ended the game.

The best Petaluma could offer as a counterpunch until Bles and the final-inning charge were single runs in the second, scored by Kaleigh Weiand on a wild pitch following her lead-off single, and fifth, fashioned on consecutive singles by Mevis, Weiand and Ghirardelli.

It wasn’t nearly enough.

“You don’t like to lose, but I’m proud of my team,” Jastrow said. “It has been a heck of a season.”

Petaluma finished the season with a 20-6 record that included an 11-1 record in the Sonoma County League, the league championship and the championship of the post-season league tournament.

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