SCL softball: Gerhardt leads way for Petaluma

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

PETALUMA — Two things became apparent during Tuesday’s SCL game between Sonoma Valley and the host Trojans.

Petaluma (11-1) is the top team in the Redwood Empire and sophomore Brie Gerhardt is one of the best, if not the best, hitter in these parts.

With Gerhardt going two-for-three and hitting the ball hard each time, the Trojans defeated Sonoma, 3-1. The Dragons came into the game with a 9-2 record and were 2-0 in

Petaluma's Brie Gerhardt slides safely around the tag of Sonoma Valley's Riley Ellis-Ries in the third inning at Petaluma High School in Petaluma on Tuesday, April 9, 2013. (SCOTT MANCHESTER/ PD)

Petaluma’s Brie Gerhardt slides safely around the tag of Sonoma Valley’s Riley Ellis-Ries in the third inning at Petaluma High School in Petaluma on Tuesday, April 9, 2013. (SCOTT MANCHESTER/ PD)

league.

As for Gerhardt, she upped her batting average to .552. During last weekend’s Standley Tournament in Hayward, which Petaluma won, she went eight-for-14.

The shortstop got her team off to a fast start against Sonoma, roping a double to the left field fence in the first inning. Following a sacrifice bunt by Dana Thomsen, she came around to score on Miranda Swanson’s single.

The game remained 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth when the Trojans scored two more. Swanson got things going with a single and Meghan DeCoite followed with a walk. Taylor Kerrigan, who ran for Swanson, and DeCoite then came home on Gina Barnacle’s line drive that sailed just over the head of second baseman Samantha Richards.

Sonoma finally broke through against winning pitcher Thomsen in the seventh. Ashley Vail started the inning with a single and moved to third on a base hit by Julianna Gutierez. She scored on Michelle Stovall’s opposite-field single to right field.

It was a well-played game without an error and took 75 minutes to complete.

The Trojans played fundamental ball on offense, moving runners along with four bunts. They also had at least one hit in every inning except the fifth.

“When we play fundamentally sound, we’re a very good team,” coach Kurt Jastrow said after watching his team win its 11th straight game.

“We made smart plays in the field and were aggressive at the plate.”

Jastrow thought Barnacle’s two-RBI single in the sixth was the key hit in the game.

“That gave us a 3-0 lead and a cushion,” he said. “As it turned, we needed it after Sonoma scored that run in the last inning.”

Barancle, who was playing with a sprained left ankle, took the ball to right field and the runners scored without a play.

“There were less than two outs, so I wanted to make sure I got the runner on third home,” the right-hander said. “I was looking for an outside pitch and got a high one that I was able to hit to the right side.”

Beside her double in the first, Gerhardt lined a base hit off pitcher Zoe Gaarder’s stomach in the third.

When asked the key to her hitting success, Gerhardt replied:

“I watch the ball from the time it’s in the pitcher’s hand until I swing,” she said. “Both my hits were on balls in the middle to inside of the plate. I’ve been seeing the ball real clearly this season.”

Jastrow has built a dynasty. The Trojans are 71-17 over the past four years. They won a North Coast Section title in 2011 and settled for runner-up honors last year. Sonoma is a program on the upswing. The Dragons were 28-58-2 from 2004-2008 and since Dean Merrill took over in 2009, his teams are 37-36-1.

 

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