A four-run rally in the bottom of the fourth inning helped the Petaluma T-Girls pull away from visiting Rodriguez of Fairfield, 12-7, in a softball slugfest on Saturday. A warm early afternoon mixed with light air and free-swinging batters helped the teams combine for 21 base hits before it was over.
Rodriguez jumped on T-Girl starting pitcher Mandy O’Keefe for three runs in the opening frame, and it set the tone for the rest of the game.
The hit explosion in the same inning was interrupted when an errant throw from the Petaluma outfield bounced off the helmet of Rodriguez coach Tracy Cordes, and struck her in the face. Cordes had to leave her position in the third-base coaching box, but she remained in the dugout the rest of the way with ice on the wound.
Petaluma stormed back, and scored seven runs in its half of the inning, propelled by five ringing hits. A two-run double by Kaleigh Weiand was the big hit in the inning.
Rodriguez relief pitcher Juliana Roxas was summoned in to slow down the T-Girl offense, and she did her job by mixing fastball deliveries with a tantalizing change-up that forced Petaluma batters to adjust their timing. Roxas helped quiet the Petaluma attack enough for the Lady Mustangs to pull to within a 7-6 deficit in the top of the fourth inning.
Solo home runs by Mailee Certeza and Kennedi Cox narrowed the margin to one run. The blow by Cox was a line drive to center field that appeared to gather momentum as it left the yard. The two-home-run inning seemed to re-energize the T-Girls at the plate, however.
O’Keefe and Weiand started the T-Girl rally in the bottom of the fourth with solid base hits, and Petaluma didn’t let up against Roxas until four runs crossed the plate.
Freshman second baseman Mallory O’Keefe struck the big blow in the frame with a base hit that drove in two runs. The first-year player, hitting in the ninth hole in the lineup, was 2-for-4 for the afternoon. Weiand and Cameron Ayers also had two hits each as the T-Girls finished with 11 on the afternoon.
Shortstop Rachael Bles switched positions with pitcher Mandy O’Keefe, and she earned the save down the stretch as Petaluma improved to 5-0 for the season.
Rodriguez slipped to 5-3-1 for the season. The Mustangs from the Monticello Empire League were led at the plate by Alexxis Thompson with two hits.
The T-Girls also posted a 10-3 win over Montgomery on Friday in a rescheduled rain make-up contest.
Petaluma blew open a close game with four runs in the sixth inning and went on to a 6-1 win over Analy last week in what used to be the hottest softball rivalry in the Sonoma County League.
The two teams are now in separate leagues, Petaluma in the Vine Valley Athletic League and Analy in the North Bay League, but the rivalry remains strong.
Each team collected eight hits in the game played in Sebastopol, but Petaluma’s Mandy O’Keefe allowed Analy’s Tigers only a single run in the third inning.
Still, Petaluma’s T-Girls led just 2-1 until they rallied in the sixth.
Smith led Petaluma with two hits, including a double.
O’Keefe, Kaliegh Weiend, Cami Ayers, Logan Pomi and Karlie Bernich also had hits for Petaluma.