SCL softball: Krist homer lifts Petaluma over Casa

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

PETALUMA — Joelle Krist will never forget her first high school hit and neither will her teammates.

On Thursday, the freshman blasted a late-inning home run to give Petaluma the lead in a scoreless game. The Trojans then went on to defeat cross-town rival Casa Grande, 2-0, in the SCL opener for both teams.

Krist’s two-out shot came off a fastball from pitcher Ashley Ludlow and just cleared the fence in left field. Up to that at-bat, she was 0-for-6 in her high school career.

Meghan DeCoite, another freshman, scored the Trojans’ final run. She hit a two-out double in the sixth and came home on Gina Barnacle’s two-bagger.

Krist’s emotions went from disappointment to elation as she was running to first base.

“At first, it looked like the left fielder (Rachel Martinez) was going to catch the ball,” she said. “Then, it just kept carrying and landed over the fence. For my first high school hit to decide a game against Casa is unbelievable.”

Krist recently switched to a lighter bat. “My coaches said the bat I’d been using was too heavy,” Krist said. “This was the first time I used a lighter one in a game and it gives me more bat speed and power.”

Ludlow and winning pitcher Dana Thomson each struck out 10 and allowed five hits. The Gauchos got their first hit in the fourth.

Jazz Chadwick’s grounder past third base in the fifth was Petaluma’s first hit. Chadwick was doubled-off first base prior to Krist’s home run.

Petaluma, now 4-0, was playing its first game in three weeks.

“After being off so long, I thought we played real well,” coach Kurt Jastrow said. “We’ll only get better from here.”

Petaluma lost only four players from the 2011 squad that went 21-4, tied for the SCL title and captured the North Coast Section Division 2 title.

Three starters were benched for the game by coach Louie Bruce for missing games and practices.

The Gauchos are 3-5 despite solid pitching by Ludlow and Ashley Porter. The offense is hitting under .200 and average just over two runs per game.

“It’s been the story of our season,” Bruce said. “The pitching has been great, we just have to start hitting.”

Casa’s best scoring opportunity was in the fifth. Caitlyn Cerini opened the inning with a ground-rule double. She was thrown out at third on Madelyn Bentley’s attempted sacrifice bunt. Martinez and Stephanie Sack then followed with singles. However, the threat ended when Sara Langdon struck out and Heather Zeeb grounded into a force play.

Center fielder Nicole Wiecks made two outstanding catches in center field to keep the Gauchos from getting anything else started.