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June 7, 2011 > Amador Valley shuts door on a Logan repeat

Amador Valley shuts door on a Logan repeat

By Nick Zambrano
Photos By Mike Heightchew

For the James Logan High School Lady Colts softball team, the season ended the same way it started. They started off the 2011 campaign full of swagger and energy. They were a team that bore down for all 21 outs; a team that would not go down without a fight; and a team that could overcome any obstacle that stood in their way.

At the beginning of the year, they were immediately put to the test. Against a young, fresh-faced Amador Valley High School team that was coming off a one-and-done appearance in the 2010 North Coast Section championship. However, anchored by freshman pitcher Johanna Grauer, the Lady Dons came out to prove they were going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Logan found out first hand on March 8 how tough Amador can be when they were dispatched 4-3. In that game, the mistake-hitting Lady Colts were held to an unfamiliar six hits. Pitcher Raeann Garza posed as Logan's best offensive weapon in that contest going 2-3 with two runs batted in.

The Lady Dons finished the regular season 19-5 and won the East Bay Athletic League outright. As the No. 2 seed in this year's NCS, they pushed through the likes of California High and Logan's rival, Newark Memorial High to get to the NCS final.

"Well, I think we're better prepared. I think that defensively, we're a lot better as a team then when we first played them. It's just going to be a great game," Logan head coach Teri Johnson said after receiving the news that they would face Amador Valley in the championship game.

Unfortunately, history decided to repeat itself and doomed Logan again against the Lady Dons. This time, with the NCS Division I title on the line, the Lady Colts were upended 2-0. It was the first time that the high-powered Logan offense was held scoreless all season.

Amador did not waste any time and quickly exposed Logan's unusually tense nerves.

Center fielder Krista Williams led off the first inning with a routine grounder that ate up Logan's defensively sound second baseman Alexis Martinez. After Williams, Kiera Melton knocked a grounder to third baseman Clarissa Blaquera. Blaquera made a clean play but rushed the throw and launched it wide of first baseman Kelia Barkow. Without an out against her and both runners in scoring position, Johanna Grauer notched the game's first run on a single to right field to score Williams.

"I told the girls we got to play errorless ball and we didn't and we made an error at a crucial time," said Johnson.

In the second inning, Caley Bonansea led off with a single to straight away center. Barkow drew a walk to give Logan their first pair of base runners of the game. However, Grauer showed the composure of a senior and replied with back-to-back strike outs to Kimberly Goulart and Marissa Perez.

"We knew we were not really going to score on (Grauer). She's a tough pitcher and it was going to be tough for us to push a run across," Johnson said.

Pushing forward to the fifth inning, Logan had a prime chance to finally get a run on the board. On the fate of throwing error, Tatyana Salazar was on second base with just one out.

With the pressure mounting and the outs dwindling down, Garza took matters into her own hands. The sophomore took a 1-0 delivery from Grauer and sent it into left field for a double. Alas, on the narrowest of plays, Salazar was tagged out at the plate.

"If the ball's thrown a little bit to the right or a little bit to the left, we're safe at home. It was a perfect throw, it had to be perfect to get (Salazar) out." said Johnson. "It would have been huge, a 1-1 game, absolutely it would have been huge."

Williams added more to the Lady Colts' frustrations in their half of the sixth inning. After going ahead in the count, 2-1, the left hander slapped a shot over Goulart's head in right field that rolled all the way to the fence. With a display of her tremendous speed, Williams crossed home for an inside-the-park homer.

After Grauer retired the heart of their order in the sixth, Logan was down to their final three outs. Perez kept the heart beat going with a one out single to right field. It was starting to look like a typical Logan comeback again. Especially after Salazar reached on an error by Amador second baseman Nicole Borchard.

With the crowd rallying behind her, it was Garza stepping to the plate. Wasting no time, she put the bat to the ball but it trailed right to shortstop Ashley Lotozynski, who elected to throw for the to third and cut down the lead runner.

Following Garza was Jazmine Reed. In this season alone, Reed has crafted a knack for finding herself in the clutch-type situations. It was her extra-inning, one-out single that got Logan past Heritage High in the NCS semis. Even with two outs, the Lady Colts were confident Reed could come through for them again.

Sadly, all Reed could gather from Grauer was a comeback grounder. And with that, the Lady Colts' dream season came to an abrupt end as they watched Amador celebrate their first NCS title on the Logan diamond.

"It was a great year with a great group of girls," Johnson said of her team this year. "That's what this team was, it was a team. There were no selfish players on this team this year. I'll tell you what, I think that's why it's so hard to lose is because it's the end."

With only two seniors departing the team due to graduation, the nucleus of the Lady Colts will return next year to make another run at another NCS title. When asked if she thought her squad will contend again next year, Johnson's reply was simple.

"Yes, we'll be back."

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