Nobody said repeating at the top of the Delta Valley Conference was going to be easy …
When Laguna Creek came to town Monday — for only the third softball game of the league schedule — the pressure already was on both teams to win.
Davis High and the Cardinals were both playing .500 ball and had identical 1-1 DVC marks going into the contest.
On this day, it took a bottom-of-the-seventh, two-run single from Stephanie Cello for the Blue Devils to post a 7-6, come-from-behind victory.
Cello, who went 3-for-4, also scored twice in the see-saw contest.
DHS’ 13-hit attack reminded those in attendance of last year’s 21-7 DVC co-champions.
Cello believes, that while these Devils don’t have the seasoning that the 2012 team had, they are still on track to challenge for postseason rights — and maybe even another DVC crown.
“We’re different teams,” said the DHS second baseman. “We had a lot of veterans (last year), but we brought some girls up this year and certainly have the potential to compete.”
Witness Monday’s battle:
Davis jumped on top 2-0 when Tarah Kalinen’s single plated Cello after Kaitlyn Lagattuta had homered to left-center.
But Blue Devil starting pitcher Madi Benner had to give way with one out in the second inning.
Benner, according to DHS coach Art Guerra, has been battling sore knees (growth spurt) and was uncomfortable for the second straight outing. Last week, in the rout over Grant, Benner went but one inning.
This time, with Sarah Allen-Sutter coming on in relief, the Cards managed two unearned runs in the second to tie things.
In the third frame, Cello smacked a double to right. Ashley Dufresne followed with a towering homer to left and the locals were out in front again.
However, Laguna Creek pecked away.
Alex Scardini doubled home Jereia Brown in the fourth and pitcher Courtney Beatty doubled in Makayla Fama before a sacrifice bunt-turned-base hit plated Beatty.
Trailing 5-4, Davis pushed across a sixth-inning run — but it could have had more.
After Kalinen doubled, Madi Yule singled to put runners at the corners. Unfortunately, Yule was thrown out trying to steal.
Then, left-handed hitter Olivia Schmidt blasted a safety to left. The single drove in Kalinen, but Schmidt was thrown out trying to belatedly stretch her handiwork into a double.
With the team tied into the last inning, Jamina Afoula stole home to give LCHS a leg up before freshman Catherine Slabaugh and leadoff hitter Sydney Rosenblum collected back-to-back hits to set up Cello’s one-out heroics.
“We’re pretty good and getting better,” Cello said. “The girls we’ve brought up have brought a lot of fire to the team.”
Next up for the Devils is a Wednesday game at Monterey Trail (3-14, 1-2).
Notes: Slabaugh, an outfielder who hits from the right side, went 2-for-3 and showed she has a keen eye — taking outside pitches into right field her last two times up. … Kalinen went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI … Schmidt was shaken up at second when the sixth-inning tag was hard on her head. She appeared none the worse for wear afterward. … Losing pitcher Beatty went 2-for-4 and scored twice. … Allen-Sutter scattered 10 hits while fanning three to pick up the victory. Elk Grove leads the DVC at 3-0 (14-5 overall).
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.