Monty hitting at .337 clip; Pinole Valley at lofty .471

Posted by: Press Democrat correspondent Dewey Forget

Montgomery will get a shot at the North Coast Section Div. II softball crown Saturday against Pinole Valley.
The Vikings are a talented group of players. They have an outstanding pitcher in Taylor Stroud, who seems to be getting better as the season comes to an end. They have played creditable defense all year, anchored by Deven Kestler in centerfield and shortstop Maely Sedlik. And, here is the key to the Vikings, they can really hit.
With a team batting average of .337, there are few teams that can match their prowess at the plate.
Pinole Valley is the exception.
The Spartans are hitting .471 as a team.
Yes, I know, it looks like a misprint. The Spartans have 14 girls hitting over .400, led by Nicole Kuykendall at .701. And that’s not a misprint, either.
Kuykendall has four homers and 43 RBIs. Pitcher Veronica Kersten (13-2, 0.49 ERA) is hitting at a .552 clip. The Spartans team slugging percentage is .651, and they have hammered 16 homers.
It’s easy to see why Montgomery coach Mike Malvino said he wouldn’t be heartbroken if Pinole Valley lost to Concord in the semifinals.
But, then he was quick to add: “But we want to beat the best.”
In No.3 Pinole Valley, it would seem the Vikings will face their sternest test this year, and that is the way it should be if a section title is the prize.
There is one question ” What was the caliber of pitching the Spartans faced?
I can’t remember a team hitting nearly .500 for a season. Well, maybe beer-league slow-pitch, but that doesn’t count. We will find out if the Spartans are for real, beginning at 7:30 pm. Saturday at San Marin High. It should be a good one. Well, worth the short drive.
A couple of callers asked me for a prediction. Not sure since I haven’t seen Pinole Valley, but I do know that Malvino and the Vikings are ready for this challenge.