NBL softball: Rancho Cotate's Kibbe shuts out Ukiah

By DANIEL POULTER
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

ROHNERT PARK — With a strong wind roaring in from left field, Rancho Cotate and Ukiah’s softball teams engaged in a pitching duel Thursday. Katy Kibbe threw a three-hit, 12-strikeout shutout as the Cougars won, 2-0, to stay undefeated in NBL play.

“Katy will always keep us in the game,” Rancho Cotate head coach Dave Johnson said. “The more she pitches, the better she gets.”

While she didn’t match Kibbe’s strikeout numbers, Ukiah’s Madison Klee was nearly as dominant, holding the Cougars to two runs on four hits. Rancho Cotate’s two runs scored on a wild pitch and a timely sacrifice fly.

“I thought (Klee) pitched very well,” Wildcats coach Gary Venturi said of the junior’s performance against the state’s 20th-ranked softball team, according to MaxPreps. “Best she has pitched all year.”

Ukiah had a chance to score early on Rancho’s ace. The Wildcats loaded the bases in the top of the third on two singles and a walk, the only free pass surrendered by Kibbe. But Kibbe got out of the jam by striking out Haley Higgins to strand all three runners.

“We had a couple of good opportunities early on,” Venturi said. “You don’t get many opportunities versus her.”

Klee and the wind, which affected fly balls all game, shut down the Cougars’ hitters through the first three innings. Rancho Cotate got its first hit of the afternoon when Kibbe hit a seeing-eye triple in the bottom of the fourth. After a full-count battle, Courtney Zaccagna hit a sacrifice fly to left field that allowed pinch runner Breanah Hegerty to slide safely into home for the go-ahead run.

Rancho got a clutch hit and an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. Kristine Ricossa hit a shot to right field that got past the defense, allowing the sophomore shortstop to reach third. Ricossa slid in to score on a wild pitch.

With the win, Rancho Cotate improved to 14-1, 8-0 in NBL play. Ukiah fell to 11-4, 4-4 in league.