By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
All that hitting to the opposite field in practice showed dividends for Petaluma on Wednesday.
Three doubles down the right-field line in the fifth inning propelled the Trojans to an 11-1 win over Ukiah in the first round of the NCS Division 2 softball tournament.
With a 4-1 lead, Petaluma strung together the trio of doubles, three singles and a hit batsman to score seven runs and clinch the win under the 10-run rule.
“Every practice we work on hitting to the right side,” Petaluma coach Kurt Jastrow said. “We hit to that side very well today.”
With a matchup of league champions — the North Bay League Wildcats, 21-5 overall and seeded ninth, and the Sonoma County League Trojans, 23-3, seeded eighth — both teams knew it would be a tough game.
Petaluma scored one run each in the first and second innings, but Ukiah got one back in the third to trail 2-1. The Trojans scored twice more in the fourth on two hits and an error before erupting in the fifth.
In the final inning, Petaluma, sent 10 batters to the plate, including Cassie Baddeley twice.
She singled up the middle to start the rally, moved to second on a bunt that Alexis Silinonte beat out before Emily Corda’s no-man’s-land pop-up landed just in front of Ukiah centerfielder Anna Brazil to load the bases for Kailee Silacci.
Silacci hit a curving shot along the right-field line that rolled out of play for a ground-rule double, scoring Baddeley and Silinonte.
After Brie Gerhardt walked, Krist — who will play softball at the University of Arizona next year — came up with the bases loaded. Krist, The Press Democrat’s large school female athlete of the year, leads her team in batting average (.554), on-base percentage (.592) and slugging percentage (.975).
In her previous at-bats, Ukiah used a novel approach to try to minimize the damage Krist might do.
Wildcats shortstop Rylee Rickel moved to the outfield as a fourth fielder, leaving only third baseman Kaylah Pardini on the left side of the infield.
Krist was walked twice, once intentionally. In the third inning, seeing the odd defensive configuration, she bunted, but was thrown out by Ukiah pitcher Delaney Kindopp.
“I’ve never seen that before,” Krist said of the four-outfielder approach. “I didn’t even notice it during my first at-bat. I tried the bunt, but it didn’t really work.”
In the fifth, Krist came up with the bases loaded and two out. She was hit by a pitch on her left foot, forcing across a run.
Miranda Swanson followed that up with a two-run double to right, and Baddeley knocked in the final two runs with a double to the right-center gap, bringing home Krist and Swanson.
Baddeley went 2-for-4 with a double, single, two runs batted in and a run scored. Brie Gerhardt was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Silacci, Swanson and Silinonte all went 2-for-3.
Ukiah’s Mykayla Ramsey was 1-for-3 with a triple and a run scored.
Petaluma advances to play No. 1 seed Livermore at 2 p.m. Saturday at Robertson Park in Livermore. The Cowboys beat No. 16 seed Las Lomas 15-0 on Wednesday.
You can reach Lori A. Carter at 521-5470 or email@example.com. On Twitter @loriacarter.