Intentional walk was key moment in Rancho's win

Posted by: Press Democrat correspondent Dewey Forget

Thursday at Santa Rosa High, Rancho Cotate finally got the best of Montgomery, winning the North Bay League softball tournament championship, 1-0, in eight innings.

One can point to the great pitching performance by Stephanie Sarris or the alert base running of Oriana Poueu as the defining elements in the Cougars’ emotional win. And, few would argue the point. However, I would suggest that the key moment came in the bottom of the seventh inning.

With two runners on, Montgomery’s Amanda Cuccaro strode to the plate. Cuccaro is an imposing figure. She is hitting .446 with 37 RBIs and six homers. Those are big numbers for a sophomore. With the game on the line, Rancho coach Dave Johnson walked Cuccaro intentionally to load the bases. It did put a lot of pressure on Sarris, but she responded by getting Liz Albrecht, who was hitting .515, on a pop up.

It was the right decision, even though Albrecht was also a dangerous hitter. Johnson’s decision was based on two facts. First, Sarris had handled Albrecht in her first three at-bats, striking her twice and giving up a bunt single that could have been fielded for an out.

Secondly, Johnson said no way was he going to let Cuccaro beat him – again. Cuccaro hit a grand slam in their first meeting to beat Rancho, 4-2. “What would people say if I let her hit and she beat us again?” Johnson said.