Kaleigh Weiand slammed a two-out home run over the left-field fence in the bottom of the eighth inning to give host Petaluma a thrilling 5-4 non-league softball win over crosstown rival Casa Grande on Tuesday.
Weiand, a late entry in the game in the ninth slot in the batting order, brought things to a sudden end and helped the T-Girls hold off a late-game charge by the feisty Lady Gauchos. Casa Grande trailed 4-0 late in the game, then rallied to knot things up with a sudden discovery of some offense in the sixth inning.
The home run by Weiand emptied the celebrating T-Girls dugout in the final non-league competition between the two rivals, who will be in the same league next season.
The excitement also halted a quiet string of gritty innings turned in by Casa starter Katie Humphries, who had tossed 3⅔ scoreless frames in a strong complete-game performance that allowed her team to catch up. The sophomore right-hander scattered seven hits and was around the strike zone all afternoon.
Petaluma pecked away early at Humphries by using small-ball tactics and heads-up base running. Three soft hits that bounced in front of onrushing Gaucho outfielders set the table for key hits by Mandy O’Keefe, Mindy King and Indya Smith, and it was 4-0 going into the top of the sixth inning. O’Keefe had a pair of hits and two RBIs for the T-Girls.
The ability of the T-Girls to take an extra base on a simple sacrifice bunt proved instrumental in the early rally.
O’Keefe had things going her way as the Trojan starter, but everything changed when Casa put a 3-spot on the board to make fans from both sides squirm. A double that drove in two runs by Humphries was the big blow.
Petaluma coach Kurt Jastrow pulled O’Keefe in favor of freshman Rachael Bles, who got out of the sixth without further damage. The seventh was a different story.
A single by freshman Skylar Thorpe and a clutch double off the bat of Presley Ruoff evened the contest in the seventh inning. Humphries held the fort, and the two rivals went to extra frames.
Bles dodged bullets from all angles and managed to get out of the top of the eighth inning without any scoring damage. A bases-loaded fly-ball out to shortstop got her out of major trouble.
Two quick outs gave every indication that the ninth inning was right around the corner. It all ended with one swing of the bat by Weiand.
Petaluma improved to 8-3 with the win and earned a few bragging rights while both teams concentrate on league play for the rest of the season.
The young Gauchos continue to impress with their competitive grit despite six freshmen on the roster. Casa is 5-2 for the season and a surprising 3-0 in North Bay League play.
Katie Machado of Casa Grande was the top hitter on the afternoon with three base hits, while teammate Ava Luiz went 3-for-4.
Casa Grande outhit the T-Girls 11-7.