Terrry Bernal/Daily Journal
Carlmont pitcher Rebecca Faulkner held Hillsdale to just one run on three hits in the Scots’
3-1 win Thursday afternoon in San Mateo. It was Carlmont’s PAL Bay Division opener.
At the outset of the year, it looked like Carlmont softball was going to walk all over everybody this season.
With the Scots outscoring opponents 45-2 through their first five games, superstar left-hander Rebecca Faulkner was clearly dealing. She simply wasn’t getting the opportunity to lock up with opposing pitchers.
Fast forward to Carlmont’s Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division opener Thursday and the tone had changed dramatically for the Scots. In the circle though, it was the same unflappable Faulkner — still dealing, as always.
Carlmont (1-0 in Bay, 7-2 overall) scored a dramatic comeback win 3-1 at Hillsdale Thursday and Faulkner was the driving force. The senior allowed just one run on three hits with all three Knights hits coming in the second inning.
“Hillsdale has always been a top competitor to us just because we’ve been rivals for a long time,” Faulkner said. “So whenever we come out we always give a hundred percent because we know it’s going to be a tough game no matter what.”
Hillsdale (1-1, 5-1) played it tough by jumping out to an early 1-0 lead. And for a time it seemed Knights junior starter Tori Pierucci was going to be untouchable. At one point, the right-hander set down 16 of 17 batters. But it was the one batter Pierucci didn’t retire that changed the complexion of the game.
After Pierucci set down 10 consecutive batters, Carlmont snapped the streak in the fifth when junior Kirra Loucks powered an opposite-field bomb to right to tie it. Then with one out in the seventh, the Scots notched four hits to seize the lead 3-1 in dramatic fashion.
“We have a great team,” Faulkner said. “They always pick me up when I’m feeling down and then they keep going. They always have my back.”
The game-winning rally was almost a rally that wasn’t. Hillsdale played an outstanding defensive game, with junior shortstop Meagan Wells flashing the range and the arm throughout. She kept the Scots off the base paths to the tune of six infield assists, including an incredibly rangy play over the middle to end the fifth.
With one out in the seventh, Wells almost made an even more dazzling play on a ball scorched to her left by Carlmont senior Gabriella Pons. Wells slid to a knee and got leather on the sharp grounder but could not corral it. Pons went on to steal second and move to third on a single to right by Danielle Giuliacci. Then with two outs, Melissa Pekarek hit a one-hopper back towards the circle that Pierucci got a glove on with a backhand, but the ball glanced away allowing Pons to score the go-ahead run.
“I thought Tori had it,” Hillsdale head coach Randy Metheany said. “It wasn’t that far out of her reach. It went in her glove. It had a little pace on it and then I think it just kind of popped out of her palm. And then it didn’t go to one of our girls. It kind of went to the side. I think we would have still been able to make a play.”
Jacey Phipps followed with a flare to center that Knights second baseman Eryn McCoy ran down but also had it glance off her glove for a base knock, plating Giuliacci to give Carlmont a 3-1 lead.
Of Carlmont’s four hits in the inning, three of them caught leather.
“Our kids had character,” Carlmont head coach Jim Liggett said. “They battled back. [Faulkner] kept us in the game. And we got some breaks.”
Following the game, Carlmont cleanup hitter Mariko Kondo walked across the diamond to give a Pierucci a playful hug. While the two were opponents Thursday, they play on the same West Bay Nuggets travel-ball team.
“I hope she pitches that way in the summer,” Kondo said. “Because if we both do, then I think we’re going to be unbeatable.”
Pierucci took a three-hitter into the seventh and induced 11 groundouts throughout.
“I thought her location was good and her off-speed pitches were in the zone, and [the Scots hitters] were having trouble with it,” Matheany said. “You can’t fault anything she did. I thought she was tremendous. And Becca is tough. She’s a Division I player. You can see it. She’s a fighter.”
With the win, Faulkner — who will attend UC Riverside on a full athletic scholarship next season — improves to 3-1. The win is her first one-run victory of the season. And she was appreciative of locking up in a pitchers’ duel.
“I think it’s nice to have that person to compete with because you’re kind of always on your toes,” Faulkner said. “You don’t want to give up. Every pitch counts. So it’s really nice to have that duel with someone else.”