No. 1 Montgomery made a statement in the North Bay League postseason softball tournament championship game at Santa Rosa Junior College.
After sharing the NBL regular-season pennant with No. 2 Rancho Cotate and No. 3 Casa Grande, the Vikings’ 6-1 win against the Cougars on Thursday clinched Montgomery’s third consecutive NBL postseason tournament title.
Furthermore, by virtue of their NBL tournament title, the Vikings (20-6) will be considered the league champions for seeding purposes in the North Coast Section Division 2 playoffs. Montgomery coach Mike Malvino said the Vikings will likely get a first-round home game and a three-to-five seed.
“One of my goals was to win 20 games this season,” he said. “Tonight our defense was great and our bats were working.”
Montgomery relied on its No. 2 starter, Lilly Castro, since Vikings ace Anna Zoia-Buescher was unable to pitch due to injuring her non-throwing shoulder in a slide during Tuesday’s semifinal against Ukiah.
Zoia-Buescher played in the outfield against the Cougars (14-10) but her status for pitching in the NCS is uncertain, Malvino said.
“Lilly has finally developed a change-up that is coming in nicely,” Malvino said. “She was mixing the fastball with the change-up and that kept their batters off-balance. She got a lot of pop-ups and groundouts and that helped out a lot. Rancho’s batters were not making her work.”
Castro went seven innings, giving up a run and 5 hits for the win.
Cougars starter Carmen Haugen (3 innings, 3 runs, 6 hits) took the loss.
Haugen surrendered a two-run homer to Montgomery’s Olivia Gabriel in the second inning that broke open a 1-1 tie and put the Vikings in charge for good.
The Vikings’ offense was led by Gabriel (2-4, HR, triple, 4 RBIs, 2 runs), Zoia-Buescher (2-4, run), Ashley Baker (2-2, RBI) and Rylee O’Mara (2-3, 2 runs).
Haugen (1-3, triple, RBI) led Rancho Cotate in hitting.
Montgomery finished 3-0 against Rancho Cotate this season and has won 10 of the last 11 head-to-head games with the Cougars over the past three years.
Petaluma 11, Sonoma Valley 1 (6)
At Analy, the host No. 1 Trojans (20-5) won the final Sonoma County League postseason softball tournament against the overmatched No. 2 Dragons (13-12). Petaluma also won the final SCL regular-season title.
Petaluma went 3-0 against Sonoma this season.
“This is special for the girls to be the last champions in the SCL regular season and postseason tournament,” Petaluma coach Kurt Jastrow said. “The SCL is done — it was nice to be the last champs.”
Beginning with high school sports this fall, the SCL and the NBL will be combined into a two-division North Bay League.
The Trojans will probably host a first-round game in NCS Division 2 and likely be a top-six seed.
Mandy O’Keefe pitched a complete game for the Trojans, giving up one run and four hits.
“O’Keefe dominated Sonoma’s one through four hitters. She had them under control,” Jastrow said. “When her screwball is working, it is in on the batters’ hands, and they either pop it up or foul it off.”
Trojans freshman Rachael Bles, the SCL MVP, hit a monstrous grand slam over the center field wall in the second inning with two outs to give Petaluma a 4-0 lead. Bles was 2-4 with a homer, triple, four RBIs, and four runs.