Ft. Bragg avenges softball playoff loss to Healdsburg

By DANIEL POULTER
FOR PD PREPS

HEALDSBURG — Fort Bragg softball earned some payback for last year’s early North Coast Section Division 4 playoff exit, beating the Greyhounds 5-3 on Monday.

Last season, 11th-seeded Healdsburg, which plays a tough SCL schedule against larger schools, went on the road and eliminated the NCL I North champion in the first round. On Monday, though, the Timberwolves jumped in front early and stayed there.

Fort Bragg took the lead in the top of the first. A pitch from Healdsburg’s Mikayla Froom-Rodgers got away with the bases loaded, allowing Cherie Ryden to score. Froom-Rodgers escaped further damage with a strikeout and a ground out to end the threat.

The young Timberwolves continued to hit well in the second inning.

After a leadoff walk, a single and two stolen bases, Ryden drove in Keily Becerra. The Wolves kept up the pressure by loading the bases before starting pitcher Cassidy Lowe smacked a ball into the outfield to score Ryden and Veronica Huerta. Froom-Rodgers once again worked out of the inning by striking out three batters.

Healdsburg started to chip away at the four-run deficit in the bottom of the fourth, taking advantage of a string of errors. Shortstop Ursula Lopez reached on an error, and on the next pitch the freshman took off for second, colliding with shortstop Ryden. The Fort Bragg captain had to leave the game for an inning. Lopez scored on a high throw to freshman Brianna Johnson at third base.

Later in the inning, with runners on second and third, Holli Arreguin hit a ground ball to short that allowed Kim McKernan to score from third. Alexia Ochoa followed Arreguin with a well-hit ball to the second baseman that allowed Froom-Rodgers to score.

Fort Bragg added an insurance run in the top of the fifth when Johnson doubled to start the inning and was driven in by a Becerra single.

After the rough first two innings, Froom-Rodgers settled into a groove and went the distance, allowing four hits, a run and a walk the rest of the way while striking out seven Timberwolves.

Lowe went the distance for Fort Bragg, giving up four hits and three runs, all unearned, while striking out four.

Monday’s nonleague game will affect NCS Div. 4 playoff seedings, as record vs. similarly sized schools is one factor the seeding committee weighs.