With two games and 15 innings in the books between Carlmont and Aragon, the story of this year’s regular-season softball rivalry between the two Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division frontrunners can be summed up in one word — dogfight.
Carlmont (12-2 PAL Bay, 16-9 overall) persevered in both games to sweep the season series, most recently a 12-9 victory Thursday at Aragon. With the win, the Lady Scots clinched the outright Bay Division championship for the second straight year.
The Lady Dons (10-4, 18-6) settle for a second-place tie with San Mateo. A win Thursday would have given them a co-championship in the Bay Division. For Carlmont, though, the outright title is an important distinction.
“It’s huge,” Carlmont head coach Marco Giuliacci said. “That’s one of our goals for the season is to win league … then obviously to go on and win CCS.”
After sweeping through Bay Division play last season for an undefeated league record, Carlmont grinded it out this year. Both games against the Dons were decided in the Scots’ final at-bat, including Thursday’s eighth inning, a three-run rally highlighted by junior Tayler Wise’s go-ahead single.
But the wild back-and-forth made for one of the craziest softball games of the year. It was quite the tone for Aragon’s interim head coach Tricia Davidson, helming her first varsity game in place of head coach Roger Miller, who was attending Notre Dame-Belmont softball’s Senior Day, as his daughter Carlee is an NDB senior.
“Our first game against them wasn’t as wild but it was definitely a dogfight kind of thing,” Davidson said. “So, yeah, this was by far the craziest.”
Ashley Trierweiler’s fourth at-bat summed up the crazy day. The Carlmont senior entered the day two hits shy of the program’s all-time hits lead. In her first two at-bats, the Scots’ leadoff hitter tied the record — recording a leadoff triple in the first inning and a single in the second — giving her 194 career hits, tying the Carmont record set by Janelle Yousef in 2000.
Then in her sixth-inning at-bat, she attempted to bunt for a hit. The drag bunt popped into the air and hit the ground between the mound and the plate. Aragon pitcher Holly Fletcher attempted to barehand it but couldn’t grab it cleanly. Trierweiler reached base on the play, with Aragon’s official home book calling it an error, but Carlmont’s book calling it a hit.
Yet, that was one of just two innings in the game that Carlmont didn’t score.
The Scots scored single runs in the first, second and fourth. But Aragon evened the score in the bottom of the fourth on one mighty swing by freshman Megan Grant, who launched a three-run home run to left, her CCS-leading 12th of the year.
The home run cost Aragon in the long run, though, as Grant was intentionally walked in her final two plate appearances of the day.
“She’s a phenomenal hitter,” Giuliacci said. “And I didn’t walk her the [previous] time and she hit a three-run homer against us. And … I just wasn’t going to let her beat us. If the girl behind her beats us, so be it. She wasn’t going to beat us. I take my hat off to her. She’s an amazing hitter.”
Carlmont took the lead right back in the top of the fifth with some power of its own as Amanda Kondo connected for a two-run blast to center, putting the Scots up 5-3.
Scots pitcher Sanni Karhiaho struck out the side in the bottom of the fifth. The senior right-hander allowed just four hits on the day while fanning 12, a new career high.
But in the bottom of the sixth, Aragon needed just two hits to generate a four-run rally, taking a 7-5 lead. Shannon Galliano opened the frame with a double. Then, after a walk to Liv DiNardo, Carlmont intentionally walked the bases loaded with a free pass to Grant. Maikaila Tuakoi followed with a sharp grounder to second that saw the Scots second baseman play it safe, taking the sure out at first base, with Galliano scoring to make it 7-6.
“I’m sure [Karhiaho] is looking to keep stuff down, looking for a groundball,” Giuliacci said. “Looking for a home-to-first double play. It didn’t quite work out that way but that’s on everybody’s mind.”
Then Cassidy Trizuto tied it up with a sacrifice fly to center. After Elisa Jee got hit by a pitch, Siulolovao delivered a two-run single to give the Dons the lead.
“We were pretty confident (at that point),” Davidson said. “We were like, ‘We’re getting these three outs and we’re going home.’”
But Carlmont had other ideas, as the lineup that has batted .339 as a team this year showed it can essentially score at will.
With one out in the seventh, Wise and Kondo socked back-to-back doubles, closing the score to 7-6. After a single by Logan Bonetti put runners at the corners, Bonetti swiped second on the pitch before junior Andrea Raccioppi drove a towering two-run double to center to give Carlmont the lead. Raccioppi later scored on an RBI groundout by Trierweiler, giving the Scots a 9-7 advantage.
But in the bottom of the seventh, Aragon benefitted by the craziest play of the crazy game to tie it up. After Galliano reached on an error, DiNardo walked and, once again, Grant was walked intentionally to load the bases. Tuakoi then took two quick strikes but battled by fouling off three Karhiaho offerings.
“I was thinking: ‘You better hit the ball. You’d better do it for your team. You’ve got to get in there and do something,’” Tuakoi said.
Tuakoi proceeded to put on in play, hitting a pop-fly in back of third base. The infield fly rule was called, but when Carlmont’s shortstop dropped the ball, Galliano dashed home from third base. A Carlmont throw home went to the backstop, allowing DiNardo to score the tying run.
“I was a little upset at first but then after I realized what it had done, I was cheering with my team,” Tuakoi said.
In the top of the eighth, though, Carlmont’s mighty offense flipped the switch. Again.
Karhiaho led off with a single. After cleanup hitter Eimear Cunningham bunted her over, Wise drilled an RBI single to center field to give the Scots the lead. Kondo then doubled home Wise and Bonetti followed with an RBI single.
Karhiaho set down the side in order in the bottom of the eighth to close out the win.
“I thought she was just as strong (in the eighth) as at the beginning of the game,” Giuliacci said of his starting pitcher. “She gave up quite a bit of runs, they were unearned. … The scoreboard doesn’t reflect how good of a game she actually pitched.”
It was fitting Davidson served as interim head coach on Aragon’s Senior Day. Now a travel softball coach with the Foster City Flash, three Aragon players who grew up playing for the Flash — Trizuto, Kayleigh Puchinelli and Lindsey Stevens — were honored in Thursday’s Senior Day pregame ceremony.