NCS softball: Petaluma powerhouse, small school teams earn high seeds


Empire softball teams are set up to try to make deep section playoff runs led by Petaluma among the big schools and a trio of second seeds among small schools.

The North Coast Section pairings were highlighted by lower seeds for North Bay League teams. A tougher league with the addition of Casa Grande and Windsor, even champion Maria Carrillo is seeded just sixth for the playoffs, assuring but one home contest for the Pumas.

Petaluma played and beat the best in the section, earning the top seed in NCS Division 2. The Trojans were second in the section a year ago after capturing the title in 2011. A handful of this season’s starters have played on all three teams.

“Our girls are ready to go. They’re pretty excited,” said Petaluma coach Kurt Jastrow.

While an impressive resume carried Petaluma up the seedings, Maria Carrillo’s body of work included too many losses to go higher than a sixth seed. Still, the Pumas also are experienced and hungry for the section playoffs.

“The girls are playing catch and hitting the ball,” said Maria Carrillo coach Lonnie Harwell. “At least we’re home for one.”

The section playoffs open Tuesday and Wednesday. Among the early scenarios is a possible Petaluma-Rancho Cotate match up in the second round. But first Rancho Cotate must win at Livermore as a No. 8 seed meets No. 9, with Petaluma expected to handle San Lorenzo in its opener.

Gaining a top seed is nice, but not how Petaluma will measure the season.

“Number one is for pride. It doesn’t get you any wins or losses,” Jastrow said.

“It’s a four game season now.”

Petaluma won the Sonoma County League. Maria Carrillo took the North Bay League title. On opposite sides of the NCS Division 2 bracket, the teams could meet for the title game if they can withstand the East Bay’s best.

Pitching and hitting including extra base knocks is Petaluma’s strength. Maria Carrillo is deep and talented. “At this point we’re fine tuning,” Harwell said.

Three teams lead the small school playoff pairings. Cloverdale is second in NCS Division 4, looking to add to the school’s 2010 title — the eighth for Cloverdale.

Also seeded second are St. Vincent in NCS Division 5 and Laytonville in NCS Division 6. St. Vincent won the section title a year ago.

Laytonville was runner-up to Ferndale last season.

Two other Empire teams with hopes of advancing are Analy, who opens with a home game against Albany in NCS Division 3, and Santa Rosa, playing at San Ramon Valley in NCS Division 1.

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