NCS softball: Rancho holds on for 2-1 win

By HOWARD SENZELL
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

ROHNERT PARK — Rancho Cotate’s softball team needed 30 minutes Tuesday to complete its 2-1 victory over Concord and gain a measure of payback over  the team that defeated the Cougars in last year’s NCS Division II championship.

Today, when No. 2 seed Petaluma comes to town for a semifinal, payback will again be on the minds of Rancho players. Even though it was 11 weeks ago, the Cougars remember the 8-2 loss they suffered at the hands of the Trojans.

The winner of today’s 5 p.m. game will play for the tournament title this weekend.
On Monday, Concord was back to finish a game that was suspended on Saturday following steady rain. The game picked up in the top of the fifth with the score, 2-1, and remained that way.
The Minutemen got the tying run aboard in the fifth and seventh innings, but each time winning pitcher Shonna Christianson got an out when she needed it.
Concord came within inches of getting a run in the seventh, but an alert play by left fielder Ceara Maloney kept that from happening.

The visitors had a runner on second with one out when Aleyna Benipayo hit a foul ball that second baseman Morgan Taylor tracked down. With the runner at second tagging up, Taylor threw wildly to third. Had Maloney not backed up, the tying run would have scored.
Christianson then got Brittany Babin on an infield fly to end the game. The senior is 12-0 on the season while allowing one run per game.
Christianson looks far from overpowering. She is 5-foot-3 and weighs 103 pounds.

“She can’t throw it past opposing batters, but she puts a lot of spin on the ball and hits her spots,” coach Dave Johnson said. “Our defense has been making the plays since we made some adjustments after that Petaluma game.”
When the Trojans won the first meeting, Rancho made six errors and there were also four passed balls.

“We were hoping to get another shot at Petaluma,” third baseman Courtnie Morton said. “That game was during spring break and we had players that were on vacation and one player (Taylor) recovering from surgery.
“The way we played was embarrassing. We wanted them again, just like we wanted another shot at Concord.”

Morton knocked in the Cougars’ first run with a double in the third inning Saturday and she came home with what turned out to be the winning run following a single by Orianna Poueu.
Rancho, champs of the North Bay League, have won 12 straight and sport a 21-4 record.
Concord, winner of the Diablo Valley Athletic League, finishes 20-5.

The other semifinal game today features No.1 Pinole Valley hosting No.5 Carondolet.