Can a two time defending champion become a team of destiny?
Take the case of the Maria Carrillo Softball team. The Pumas are the two time NBL champions.  The way this season started out it appeared that streak would end.  The 0-7 start has been well documented.
Since league play has started they have been a different team.  That different team showed up on Thursday.  In Softball you are used to seeing neat, quick and low scoring games.
This game was neither.
When it was all said and done, Maria Carrillo rallied to defeat Montgomery 19-18 in a game that went nine innings and took over four hours to play.
To say Maria Carrillo rallied is an understatement.  It was a game that mirrored the Maria Carrillo season.  Halfway through the game, it looked like there was no hope.  Montgomery had sent eight batters to the plate in each of the first three innings.  Then in the fourth inning they sent nine.  Halfway through (a regulation game) Montgomery had a 14-1 lead.
The game appeared over.
Well maybe not.
In the bottom of the fourth, Maria Carrillo sent twelve batters to the plate and scored eight runs to cut the lead to 14-9. Randi McMahan’s two run double, which was part of a five RBI game, started the rally.
It looked like a minor annoyance for Montgomery.  They responded in the top of the fifth by sending eight more batters to the plate, scoring three more runs, to regain what look like control at 17-9.  Jaxen Brazell had the big hit of the inning with a two run triple, which was half of her four RBI day.
It would be hard to believe that Montgomery would only score one run the rest of the way.  That wouldn’t be the only part of the game that would be hard to believe.
Maria Carrillo matched Montgomery’s three run top of the fifth, with three of their own in the bottom of the inning. Hannah Chew had the big hit of the inning smacking a two run double.  It was Chew’s only hit of the game, but she did walk four times.
Going into the bottom of the seventh, the game appeared headed in the direction that it was heading the whole game, that is a Montgomery win, as they had an 18-13 lead. But Maria Carrillo sent 11 men to the plate, collecting four hits (all singles), drew three walks and Montgomery committed an error to tie the game.
After a scoreless eighth inning, Maria Carrillo scored the game winner in the bottom of ninth on a two out infield single by Shaelin Kidneigh.  It was Kidneigh’s fourth hit of the game and her third RBI.
The two teams combined for 37 runs, 28 hits and 13 errors.  Maria Carrillo had two innings in which they scored more runs than any game in the pre-league 0-7 start.  The three run fifth, which was its highest scoring game of that start.
All in all, twelve players had at least two hits, with six of them having three or four.  Also eight players had at least two RBI, with four of them having four.
With all that hitting, there was a pitching star. Well as much as a pitching star as you can have in a game like this. Maria Carrillo’s Lily Maksim pitched all nine innings, throwing 174 pitches. Her line is nothing to write home about. She gave up 22 hits, nine earned runs and walked three. She also was the winning pitcher.
What this does to the North Bay League race is make it look familiar.  Rancho Cotate defeated Windsor 10-0 to raise its overall record to 8-1 and is in a first place tie with Maria Carrillo at 3-0.  The two teams meet next Thursday at Maria Carrillo.  Both teams go on the road before that.  On Tuesday, Maria Carrillo travels to Ukiah, while Rancho Cotate travels to Montgomery.  Ukiah is the only team besides the two leaders that is over .500 in the league race at 2-1.
Before that Rancho Cotate is in the Antioch tournament, which they start with two games today.
My email address is jacpasquini@comcast.net

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