Trojans are NCS champions!

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The clouds held back long enough for Petaluma to rain down runs on Carondelet for a decisive North Coast Section softball championship victory Friday afternoon.

Scoring in all but one inning, the Trojans ended the Division 2 title game on Abby Balf’s sharp single to right field, sending home the final two runs in the 15-4 win.

The Petaluma Trojans beat Carondelet High School during the Division II North Coast Sections championship game held at San Marin High School in Novato, June 3, 2011. Petaluma won 15-4 in six innings. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

The game, at San Marin High in Novato, a neutral site, was called in the sixth inning on the 10-run mercy rule.

Petaluma took control two innings earlier, scoring six times, four on Chelsea Martin’s grand slam. The right fielder also banged a triple to break an early tie, giving her seven runs batted in for the game. All but one starter had a hit against the Cougars.

“The approach today was to go out there serious, but loose,” Martin said. “We back each other when someone’s not hitting. We all picked each other up today.”

Not that Petaluma needed to roll up the runs to win. After walking the game’s leadoff batter, pitcher Dana Thomsen settled into a rhythm, limiting Carondelet to four hits and striking out six.

While this was just her third win on the season, Thomsen — who with Gina Barnacle form a sophomore starting duo — pitched with poise in her biggest prep game yet.

“She’s a tough kid on that mound,” said Petaluma coach Kurt Jastrow. “We just thought we’d pitch her because she was fresh. Today it was Dana’s turn.”

Also a strong hitting and pitching team, Carondelet dug too deep a hole with Petaluma taking advantage of wild pitches and some shaky defense. Two errors helped load the bases for Martin’s go ahead triple. Another miscue extended an inning for Petaluma to score.

“They went for the jugular and they got it,” said Carondelet coach Martin Soares. “We were ready. They were the better team today.”

Petaluma broke on top with catcher T.J. Watts stroking a double to open the game and scoring on a pair of wild pitches.

After Thomsen retired six in a row following the leadoff walk, Carondelet evened the score in the third inning. Right fielder Bryce Brinser had the Cougars first hit and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch and passed ball. Designated player Tylyn Wells slapped a scoring single to left field.

As winning teams do, Petaluma responded. With one out, the Trojans took advantage of a dropped fly and mishandled infield throw sandwiched around Nicole Wiecks’ bunt single. Martin’s triple cleared the bases.

Carondelet put the first two runners on in the fourth. Then third baseman Allie Corids stabbed a bunt in the air and Thomsen recorded a strike out and fly out to end the scoring chance.
In the Trojans half of the inning, Wiecks and Corids hit bases loaded RBI singles ahead of Martin’s soaring grand slam over the left field fence.

“It looked pretty big to my eyes,” Martin said of the first pitch fastball. “I just saw it and hit it.”

The game seemed easy indeed for Petaluma on Friday.

Even when Carondelet scored three in the fifth, the big blow being a two-run double by third baseman Cassidy Szeredy, the Trojans matched the Cougars and then some. Watts’ second double of the game gave Petaluma a seven-run cushion.

An inning later, Petaluma opened with three singles and scored on a groundout and catcher’s overthrow to third base. Another single loaded the bases. With two outs, right fielder Balf made her one hit on the night a walk off shot to remember.

“I wasn’t even thinking of the score. I just kept running and my first base coach said it was over,” she said.

Balf was charging ahead much like Petaluma did all season. A year ago Balf and the Trojans lost in the section semifinals. After winning the Sonoma County League this season, Petaluma set its sights on the remaining goal, a section title.

“We just worked hard all year,” said Balf, one of only three seniors. “We kept telling ourselves one more hurdle. Every game we just hopped over that hurdle and here we are.”