FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
PETALUMA — Pinole Valley pushed across two runs in the seventh inning to snap a scoreless tie and spoil Petaluma softball’s season opener Thursday afternoon.
While the Trojans’ offense sputtered in the 2-0 loss, the defense didn’t commit an error and made several outstanding plays.
Brie Gerhardtt was flawless at shortstop, making difficult stops and perfect throws while left fielder Giana Moretti reached over the fence to take a home run away from Amani Lauderdale in the the fifth inning.
Pitcher Dana Thomsen was also sharp, holding Pinole scoreless through six innings and allowing only four hits.
The Spartans’ late rally began when Ceci Salas walked with one out. Rachel Pozos followed with a double just inside the the left field foul line that brought Salas home. Pozos then came around on an opposite-field single by Lauderdale.
Winning pitcher Sydney Shirley set down Petaluma quietly in the bottom of the seventh.
Shirley is one of the best pitchers Petaluma will see this season. She has committed to play for Long Beach State next year.
The Trojans managed only two hits off the right-hander. Miranda Swanson singled in the second and Meghan De-Corte reached on an infield hit in the fifth.
“We didn’t execute with our bats,” Petaluma coach Kurt Jastrow said. “We weren’t aggressive. We needed to attack the ball.
Hey, it was our first game and I’m confident in the team that I have. We started five sophomores and as they get more experience, the bats will come around.”
Pitcher Thomsen is also confident she’ll get more run support down the road.
“We haven’t faced much live pitching and it showed,” she said. “We were late swinging on a lot of pitches and didn’t pick up balls on the inside or outside of the plate. The bats will come around quickly as we start playing more games.”
Thomsen, who is a senior, was on the team that captured a North Coast Section Division 2 crown in 2011 and finished second last year.
“This year we’re young, but I’m confident we’re a championship-caliber team,” she said. “The ability is there.”
The past two seasons, Petaluma was a combined 45-8.
Prior to the start of Sonoma County League games on April 4, the Trojans will play a tough schedule. Rancho Cotate, Casa Grande and Concord are among the teams they’ll be facing.
“I always try to play top teams before league begins,” Jastrow said. “This season is no different. I want us to be tested every game. That way, we’ll know where we need to improve.”
Pinole Valley is now 3-1. Its only loss was to Maria Carrillo, 5-3, last Saturday.