Petaluma in NCS softball final

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Clutch is a batter knocking in runs with nearly every hit, and Allie Corids bolstered her reputation with a bases-clearing double, sending Petaluma past Rancho Cotate in a section softball playoff Wednesday.

Petaluma's Allie Corids, left, eludes the tag of Rancho Cotate's Katy Kibbe. Photo by Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat

The blast to the left-field fence — Petaluma’s third straight two-out hit in the fourth inning — was her first game winner. Corids had three hits to match the runs batted in that broke open a one-run game in Petaluma’s 6-2 victory.

“I’ve just been waiting all year for my big hit to come. It felt great,” the third baseman said.
With the win, Petaluma gets Carondelet in the North Coast Section Division 2 finals at San Marin High, in Novato, 5 p.m. Friday. The Trojans gained a North Bay neutral site as the higher seed following Carondelet’s upset of top seed Pinole Valley in the other semifinal.
Rancho Cotate lost in the section finals a year ago. Players back from that team said Petaluma can win one for the North Bay.

“They’ve been doing good. I just hope they win it all and represent the area well,” said Shonna Christianson, a leader on a Rancho Cotate team that pushed the Trojans. “We just kept fighting. But we made little mistakes.”

Coming off a pair of one-run wins in the quarterfinals, Petaluma and Rancho Cotate were primed for another close contest. Knowing runs could be at a premium, both teams scored in the first inning.
A triple from Rancho Cotate center fielder Kaykay Fronda and a Christianson lineout to center plated the Cougars’ first run.

Petaluma then put a pair of runners on with two out — all the Trojans’ runs scored with two down. Second baseman Tamara Link smacked a double to right center for the lead.
With the starting pitchers settling down and the defenses doing their job, the fourth inning became the pivotal frame.
A Christianson line-drive single got Rancho Cotate going. Pitcher Katy Kibbe blasted the ball to right center, but the runners were caught at third base on the relay throw and Christianson’s scamper home was too late.

Courtnie Morton kept the rally alive with a sharp single to tie the game 2-2. A hit batter prompted a conference on the mound. Pitcher Gina Barnacle regrouped to close the inning with a lineout and groundout.

Petaluma came right back. A swinging bunt and sacrifice followed by an infield hit put runners at first and second. After a strikeout, Petaluma was in its two-out comfort zone. T.J. Watts singled to center to load the bases. Nicole Wiecks followed suit for a 3-2 Petaluma lead.
Down to her last strike, Corids roped the three-run double down the left-field line to give Petaluma some breathing room.

Both teams went to hard-throwing pitchers to close the game. Neither squad scored, with Christianson silencing Petaluma, and Dana Thomson blanking Rancho Cotate.

“Of course it’s disappointing to lose,” said Morton, a senior, like Christianson. “I’m just happy because we had a really great season. We weren’t expected to come this far.”

After losing in the semifinals a year ago, Petaluma is one step closer to a section title. The Trojans last won it four years ago.
“We just work well together,” Link said. “This is amazing.”