Davis High softball coach Art Guerra was, in his own words, on cloud nine after his team’s Delta Valley Conference matchup with Elk Grove on Monday night, and it wasn’t hard to see why.
Using a furious surge over the final three innings, the Blue Devils overcame a 5-0 deficit and toppled the Thundering Herd, 8-6, at the DHS softball field. The win was the Devils’ second against Elk Grove in two years, following more than a decade of being on the losing side of the conference matchup, and it moved them into a three-way tie with the Thundering Herd and Franklin for first place in the DVC.
“(The players) just don’t quit,” Guerra said. “I think last week played a lot into it. We started playing very, very well and we came from behind against River City (on Friday) and then we came back (Monday). They’re just not going to quit. They know what it’s all about and they keep their heads in the game.
“We control our own destiny now. If we win out, we win the (DVC) championship (and get the) No. 1 seed (in the Sac-Joaquin Section tournament).”
The seeding would be a major boost to the Blue Devils (12-8-1, 4-1) as it would give them byes through the first two rounds of the section playoffs and the extra rest and preparation that goes along with it.
While they still have five DVC games ahead of them — including a 4:15 p.m. home contest against Franklin on Wednesday — the locals have reason to be confident in their ability to win out.
After surrendering three home runs and falling behind by five during the first 3 1/2 innings in Monday, the DHS found its footing and quickly bounced back.
Ashley Dufrense singled to open the bottom of the fourth, Tarah Kalinen doubled and Maddie Asta drew a walk to load the bases. Madi Yule followed by singling home Olivia Schmidt — who had run for Dufrense — for the Blue Devils’ first run of the game. Moments later, freshman Catherine Slabaugh added another two-run single.
The two teams went scoreless in the fifth and the Thundering Herd (15-6, 4-1) added a run in the top of the sixth, but Davis continued to press the issue. In the bottom of the frame, the Devils once again loaded the bases — with Kalinen drawing a walk and Asta and Yule both singling. All three then made it across the plate on hits by Schmidt and Slabaugh, tying the game at 6-6.
DHS went ahead when Schmidt scored on an error forced by Sydney Rosenblum’s bat, and extended its advantage to two when Slabaugh crossed the plate moments later. Her run was set up on a single by Kaitlyn Lagattuta.
In the top of the seventh, local pitcher Sarah Allen-Sutter, who started the game before being relieved by Madi Benner midway through the fourth inning, returned to action and helped her team hold Elk Grove scoreless, sealing the victory.
Benner was solid during her time between Allen-Sutter’s two stints, holding the Herd to one run and adding a strikeout. Slabaugh and Lagattuta, meanwhile, led the way offensively with two hits apiece.
— Reach Will Bellamy at email@example.com