Petaluma clinches SCL with 5-4 softball win over Analy

By ERIC WITTMERSHAUS
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

SEBASTOPOL — The historical record shows that 21-4 Petaluma beat nearly all comers en route to last season’s NCS Division 2 title in softball. It also shows that despite the postseason glory, the Trojans shared a league title with Analy after the two schools split and finished league play with the same 10-2 record.

On Tuesday, Petaluma pitcher Dana Thomsen and her talented teammates were determined not to let history repeat itself. In an epic, 10-inning contest punctuated by outstanding pitching and terrific play behind home plate, the Trojans outlasted Analy, 5-4.

“This was our goal from the very beginning (of the season),” Thomsen said after the game, in which she gave up just five hits and struck out eight. “We just wanted (the SCL title) for ourselves. We didn’t want to share it.”

Petaluma coach Kurt Jastrow wasn’t surprised by the nail-biter of a game.

“I’ve been doing this 13 years and it seems to always come down to us and Analy,” Jastrow said. “That was just a good softball game.”

Both Thomsen and her counterpart, the Tigers’ Megan Winters, pitched complete games.

Winters surrendered eight hits but was hurt by defensive lapses. Petaluma’s two runs in the 10th scored on a two-out throwing error, and all of the Trojans’ runs came in innings in which Analy made an error.

“Megan pitched her guts out,” said Analy coach Nick Houtz. “I can’t say enough about Megan, Maria Ragusa and my catcher (Hailey Sheridan).”

Sheridan, a sophomore, had a solid game behind the dish, but her counterpart for Petaluma, TJ Watts, stopped numerous balls in the dirt with runners on base, gunned down would-be base stealers and made a run-saving tag at the plate.

Perhaps the game’s savviest play came in the bottom of the ninth, when Watts called for a pitchout with a runner on second and nobody out. (The SCL uses international rules that put a runner at second base for the start of every inning after the eighth.)

Watts’ snap throw and shortstop Chelsea Martin’s quick tag erased the runner and seemed to deflate the young Tigers.

“In that situation, you know they’re going to bunt” to try to advance the potential winning run to third, Watts said of her call for a pitchout.

Watts also scored what would prove to be the winning run in the top of the 10th after the Analy error.

Petaluma (18-3, 10-1) got on the board first in the top of the third, when Brie Gerhardt doubled and came around to score when Joelle Krist’s sacrifice bunt was misplayed. Krist ended up at second after the throwing error and scored on a bang-bang play at the plate after a single by Nicole Wiecks.

Analy (12-9, 7-3) got a run back in the fourth when Kaitlyn Jay scored on a single by Madi Ortega, but the Tigers could have had more. Winters, who was aggressive on the bases all afternoon, was out at home on a great tag from Watts as the pitcher tried to score from second.

Watts also gunned down Winters trying to steal second in the bottom of the eighth.

The Tigers took a brief 3-2 lead the next inning when Kelcee O’Daniel’s base hit scored Alina Goodrum and Maria Ragusa drove in Catie Diedrich on a fielder’s choice. Although Winters walked and stole second to put runners on second and third, Thomsen got Jenna Petray to fly out to end the threat.

Petaluma tied the game in the top of the sixth when desginated hitter Gina Barnacle’s infield single was misplayed and Martin scampered home on the error.

After the sixth, Thomsen and Winters went into shut-down mode as neither team mounted much of a threat until Petaluma’s two-run 10th.

Needing to score two runs in the bottom of the 10th, Analy was able to drive in the free runner at second base, but Thomsen stayed sharp and didn’t allow a hit in the inning.

Jastrow said the extra run in the top of the 10th was huge, as it took off the pressure created by the free runner at second.

“Once you get that second run, you can just play for outs (in the bottom of the inning),” he said.

Eric Wittmershaus is The Press Democrat’s online sports editor. You can reach him at 521-5433 or eric [dot] wittmershaus [at] pressdemocrat [dot] com.