For the second time in recent Davis High softball history, a potential postseason berth will come down to a decisive coin flip.
Following Wednesday’s hard-fought 4-2 home loss to Delta Valley Conference champion Elk Grove (17-6, 10-0), the Blue Devils find themselves in a three-way tie for the final two league playoff spots. A Thursday morning toss of a coin will decide the fate of DHS (11-17), Laguna Creek and Franklin, who each finished conference play sporting a 6-4 record.
In Wednesday’s contest, Devil junior Rachel Mobley got the start in the circle, and quickly set down the Thundering Herd in order in the first inning.
Davis shortstop Kaitlyn Lagattuta singled in the bottom half of the first, setting the table for fellow senior Ashley Dufresne, who blasted a home run to left field to give the locals an early 2-0 lead.
It was a special moment for Dufresne and Lagattuta, who were joined by fellow seniors Madi Yule and Maddie Asta in playing their final home game in a Blue Devil uniform.
Mobley kept the powerful Elk Grove offense in check until the fourth inning, when a combination of walks and timely hits put the Herd ahead 3-2. DHS freshman Audrey Dufresne came on in relief during the frame to shut down the EGHS rally, and finished the contest with 3 1/3 stellar innings of work.
The Thundering Herd added an unearned run in the seventh that accounted for the final tally.
Mobley and Dufresne combined to allow only seven hits while recording three strikeouts against an Elk Grove lineup that has averaged more than seven runs a game this season.
The efforts of both pitchers drew praise from Devil head coach Art Guerra and Ashley Dufresne, the Davis catcher.
“Our pitching was amazing,” Dufresne said. “The pitching was probably the best it has been all year. They came out and they hit their spots.”
The locals lost 8-2 to the Herd on the road April 21, but saved one of their most impressive performances of the season for last.
“I’m very proud of them. How do you not enjoy what you just saw?” an emotional Guerra said afterward. “They played their best game of the year.”
No matter what Thursday’s coin toss holds for his team, Guerra was thrilled with the way DHS played down the stretch:
“Twenty-six games into the season, you can’t be happier with how you finish the (regular) season. If this happens to be our last game, you can’t be happier with how it ends. If it’s the start of the playoffs, you can’t be happier if this is how it’s going to start.”
If the Blue Devils play as well as they did Wednesday, Guerra is certain his team can do some damage in the postseason.
Ashley Dufresne, who homered for the second straight game, echoed her skipper’s sentiments:
“If we have the chance to play, we’re gonna go hard. Especially with this game that we were so close to winning, if we go into playoffs, we’ll go as hard as we’ve ever gone.”
If Davis gets the postseason berth, its playoff journey will begin Tuesday as either the second or third seed from the DVC. The league’s No. 2 seed will host the third-seeded team from the Modesto Metro Conference. The DVC’s No. 3 will travel to face the second seed from the Sierra Foothill League.
Notes: Elk Grove starting pitcher Kimberly Wilburn threw a complete game for the Herd, recording two strikeouts and allowing only four hits. … In 2010, the Blue Devils wound up on the wrong side of the coin flip with Franklin and watched the Wildcats head into the postseason instead.