Petaluma Favored, Analy Strong Again in SCL Softball

Posted By Press Democrat Staff Writer Michael Coit:

Winning the Sonoma County League softball title will require current favorite Petaluma to swap places with defending champion Analy — both are deep and talented teams.
In what should be another competitive slate of league games, Casa Grande and Sonoma Valley again field strong squads. The Gauchos have deep pitching. The Dragons boast good gloves. Both are seeking more consistent hitting.
Windsor is young and improving. El Molino plays with confidence. Healdsburg is competitive.
“The league is solid. There are some powerhouses. You take all the victories you can out of it,” said Healdsburg coach Brian Osborn.
Team capsules in order of last season’s standings, including current records.
ANALY (4-4/2-0)
Returning Starters: 7
Led by All-Empire pitcher Nicole Ochoa, who already has notched a perfect game this season, Analy also has the hitting and defense to repeat as league champion.
Analy is getting stronger after playing a difficult nonleague schedule.
“We’re trying to get in a groove. We should do well this year,” said Analy coach Nick Houtz.
With several strong freshman players, Analy is deeper than last year’s talented team. Shortstop and top hitter Megan Winters, second baseman Kaitlyn Jay and catcher Sydney Phillips are back up the middle to anchor the defense and offense. Sabrina Price returns in left field and Heather Lunardi at third base.
Outfielders Cassidy Eterovich and Maria Ragusa are newcomers who give the lineup some punch.
With three strong pitchers behind Ochoa, the Tigers have the arms to get through a handful of makeup games. Rainouts will test teams’ depth this season.
PETALUMA (8-2/2-0)
Returning Starters: 8
That the Trojans can rotate five players and still field perhaps the league’s strongest team reflects Petaluma’s depth of talent.
Petaluma’s two losses have been to undefeated East Bay teams.
“We have pretty much everything. We just have to bring it on the field,” said Petaluma coach Kurt Jastro. “We’ve been playing pretty well so far.”
Top slugger and pitcher Sara Soares leads a potent offense. Second baseman-first baseman Gina Barnacle, catcher-shortstop Chelsea Martin, and catcher-center fielder T.J. Watts also are back to power Petaluma.
Also returning are: Taylor Millard at shortstop and center field; Tamara Link at second base; Ali Corids at third base; and Abby Balf in right field.
WINDSOR (1-5/0-2)
Returning Starters: 3
After finishing third a year ago, Windsor is aiming for a winning record with a young team.
“These girls are good. We’ve just got to learn how to play at the next level,” said Windsor coach Dennis Lucchesi. “The SCL is going to be so strong this year.”
One of the Empire’s best, Kayla Tyler, leads the team in hitting and in the field at shortstop. Centerfielder and leadoff hitter Morgan Rasmason and first baseman Kylie Calvert also provide experience.
The Jaguars top pitcher is Megan Sieker, a first year varsity pitcher seeking consistency at the longer mound now used in prep games.
CASA GRANDE (3-2/1-0)
Returning Starters: 6
Pitching and hitting have carried Casa Grande, but the Gauchos need steadier defense to contend.
“If we can score a couple of runs a game, our pitchers can hold it up. But we need our defense to step up,” said Casa Grande coach Louie Bruce. “Our goal is to get back to the sections and hopefully go farther than one game.”
The pitching tandem of Ashley Porter and Ashley Ludlow match up well against any in the league.
Leading the hitting attack are second baseman Michelle Harris, centerfielder Stephanie Sack and shortstop Michelle Ginn. Also back is catcher Megan Anderson. Newcomer Carli Reinhard has been a strong addition at third base.
SONOMA VALLEY (5-3/1-1)
Returning Starters: 3
Defense and pitching have been the emphasis for the young Dragons, but hitting has been a strength in most games.
A deep team, Sonoma Valley wants to win its share against the league’s best.
“Confidence has carried us a long way. We hope to compete right up there and battle at the top,” said Sonoma Valley coach Dean Merrill.
The team’s lone senior is shortstop and leadoff hitter Mia Stornetta. Pitcher Megan McNielly and catcher Julianna Gutierez also return and help drive the Dragons offense.
Helping anchor the defense is second baseman Riley Ellis-ries. The top hitters are freshmen outfielders Lindsey Rocha and Amber Rose.
HEALDSBURG (0-6/0-1)
Returning Starters: 7
Competing against larger schools in the SCL, the Greyhounds seek to stay competitive and work in enough games with nonleague division opponents to make the section playoffs. Healdsburg needs to finish strong for the formula to work this season.
“We’ve been scoring runs. We’ve been hanging in games. We’ve just have to play a complete game,” said Healdsburg coach Brian Olson.
Shortstop and top hitter Savannah Woode-shura with centerfielder and leadoff batter Kayla Mancini provide pop.
Also back to power Healdsburg are rightfielder Chenae McCann, first baseman Katie Curry, second baseman Kim McKernan and leftfielder Jelly Chesley. First year pitcher Mikayla Froom is improving and has an experienced catcher in Sam McGee.
EL MOLINO (2-4/0-2)
Returning Starters: 6
Play hard and together, that is the game plan for what success El Molino has this season.
The Lions are strong defensively, but need more consistent hitting and pitching.
“We’re getting a few hits, not as many as we’d like to see. There’s no doubt our defense will back the pitchers up,” said El Molino coach Mel Manni. “They’re giving it their all, trying to turn this record around.”
Second baseman and leadoff hitter Elizabeth Callagy sparks the offense with pitcher-shortstop Payton Fedrick and catcher Kerri Rampone.
Also back in the starting lineup are first baseman Lacey Brooke, pitcher-outfielder Melissa Manni and right fielder Erin Fresquez.