The Montgomery Vikings did Thursday what no other North Bay League softball team could do all season. They beat the Rancho Cotate Cougars, a team that was undefeated in league and had lost only four games all season. Montgomery won 2-1 after catcher Sierra Shanoff knocked a two-run homer out of left field in the sixth inning. It was an especially noteworthy hit since the sophomore power hitter had taken off the last few games.
“It felt great, because I’ve been off for a while,” she said. Then she gestured to her teammates. “But they always keep me up, it’s always great to have someone behind my back.”
The game that remained scoreless for the first five innings livened up after the homer, but the initial lack of runs in the beginning of the game can be attributed to the excellent defense of both teams. Rancho Cotate pitcher Brittney Scardina threw five strikeouts and, despite her loss, allowed just six hits. Rancho head coach Tracey Poueu-Guerrero was content with Scardina’s performance.
“She’s always someone who throws hard and hits her spots nearly 100 percent of the time,” she said. “Usually, she gets the support of our bats. They’ve been working all season, it just didn’t happen today.”
It happened for the Vikings, who remain undefeated on the road and 10-2 in the NBL. Montgomery head coach Mike Malvino’s gameplan was respectful of the impressive season the Cougars have had so far.
“We know they are a powerful team, they had everything going for them,” Malvino said. “We had to throw off-speed stuff to them because they like to swing for the fences and they die by the home run ball.”
He’s right. This season, the cougars have league leaders in home runs (Taylor Del Santo, 8) and RBIs (Reilani Peleti, 26).
“I was just nervous going in seeing they’re undefeated,” said Vikings pitcher Anna Zoia-Bueschera, a sophomore who hits the ball as well as she throws it. “But we pulled through, all of us.”
Zoia-Buescher leads the league in runs with 28 and stolen bases with 21.
It was the sixth inning when Zoia-Buescher’s teammate,center fielder Jennifer Warner, hit a double into right field and turned up the excitement in the defense-dominated game. Then Shanoff launched a home run to left field to give her team the lead.
In the seventh, Cotate batter Alexis Gumanday shot a hit down the third-base line to give her team hope, and teammate Courtney Barbato did the same. Despite having two outs, with two girls on, Rancho had a spark of hope to take the game away from the anxious Vikings. Then, after Kaitlyn Hager roped one into left field, it looked like the Cougar girls might get two runs batted in. Unfortunately for the team, Barbato failed to tag up at second base in time and she was tagged out to end the game.
Poueu-Guerrero helped the girls keep their heads up after the loss.
“I told them it’s a game. It’s a game of failures, and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose,” she said. “I know they’re a good team, I just told them they got to respect the game and respect that Montgomery was the better team on the field today.”