The fate of Saturday night’s North Coast Section Division 5 softball championship came down to a cloud of dust in a bang-bang play at home plate.
Unfortunately for top-seeded host Cloverdale, the Eagles were on the wrong side of the call as Teanne Edens was tagged out a few inches short of the plate to end the game in the 10th inning and anoint No. 2 St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda the section champions with a dramatic 1-0 victory.
“It was a heartbreaker,” Cloverdale coach Margaret Fitzgerald said. “We battled all the way through. Our seniors had done so well all season long.”
With international rules in effect starting in the 10th inning, both teams began the inning with a runner on second base.
St. Joseph scored on a one-out single to left field by Danielle Pohlson that plated Gina Bonardi from second. Bonardi beat the tag by Cloverdale catcher Jordyn Turner at the plate by a hair.
“The throw was just a little bit late,” Cloverdale assistant coach Pat Fitzgerald said.
The bottom of the 10th inning saw Edens advance from second to third with one out. Xochilth Saldana hit a safety squeeze to Pilots pitcher Anekaila Crevani, who recorded the out at first.
St. Joseph’s first baseman then tried to pick off a retreating Edens at third, but overthrew the ball. Edens dashed for home, but the ball hit the fence and St. Joseph’s left fielder grabbed it and cut Edens down at the plate.
“It was 100 percent the correct call by the umpire,” Pat Fitzgerald said. “We needed (Edens) to go on that, to take the chance.”
Edens pitched all 10 innings in the loss, giving up one run, four hits and striking out eight.
Crevani pitched 10 innings for the win, surrendering three hits and fanning 14.
“Every play mattered today; it was a pitcher’s duel,” Pat Fitzgerald said. “We had a couple of chances to score. One run was all we needed.”
The Eagles never got the run, failing to execute on three safety squeezes at various times. Cloverdale (20-4) had a runner at third with no out in the second inning before Crevani struck out the side.
Similarly, the Pilots (14-10) loaded the bases in the eighth inning with no outs but Edens worked her way out of it.
The Eagles beat the visiting Pilots 2-1 in eight innings in a non-league tournament back in March.
“This was a tough loss,” Pat Fitzgerald said.