By Stephanie Hammon
MORAGA -- A terrific four year run for the seniors on the James Logan High softball team is over, and it ended in jubilation.
Playing in the North Coast Section Division I title game for the fourth straight year, the Colts won their third championship in that span by beating Freedom 4-1 on Saturday at Saint Mary's College.
RaeAnn Garza, Logan's four-year starting pitcher, allowed six hits and stuck out eight, giving up her only run on a double steal in the sixth inning. The undersized pitcher jumped into the arms of catcher Caley Bonansea, her batterymate in all four championship games, after the final out was recorded.
"This one to me was the most important one to win because I'm a senior, I have to win this one," Garza said. "This is a really big deal for us."
Garza got a big lift from her defense early when center fielder Alexis Mattos gunned down a runner at the plate to end the first inning. It was nearly identical to the game-ending play last season when Logan beat Amador Valley 1-0 for the NCS title.
"That was huge," Logan coach Teri Johnson said. "It set the tone and I think it showed (Freedom) where our arms are."
Logan (26-1) scored all the runs it needed in the second inning, getting some big hits from the bottom half of the lineup.
Tayler Peters scorched a double to left center that scored Bonansea and Melina Rodriguez, who had reached on hard hit singles. Deann Garza followed with a chopper over third base that brought Peters home, and the Colts led 3-0.
"That is the greatest thing about our team," Garza said. "Most high school teams, the top of the lineup, the middle, that's their strong part and then they fall off. We do not fall off."
Peters scored again in the fourth inning on Kimberly Goulart's squeeze bunt, putting the Colts in control 4-0.
For Freedom (19-6-1), the loss ended a great postseason run that saw the Falcons advance to the NCS title game as the No. 5 seed.
Logan, the No. 3 seed and defending champion, finished the year with just one defeat despite returning just four starters. That loss came in extra innings to league rival Newark Memorial at an early April tournament.
Despite all their postseason success the last few years, the Colts came into the NCS playoffs feeling like they had something to prove.
"It got my girls fired up," Johnson said. "They came in and heard we were the No. 3 seed, it's like we'll show them where we deserve to be and that's what they did."
Salesian 7, St. Patrick-St. Vincent 1: The Pride overwhelmed their league rivals to win the program's first NCS Division IV title since 2001 and second in school history.
Salesian (21-2) wasted little time in getting to Bruins pitcher Taya deAlba, scoring three times in the second inning and leading 7-0 after three at Saint Mary's College. Alicia Rosales's three-run double was the biggest hit for Salesian during a two-out rally in the second.
Salesian pitcher Zoe Conley helped her own cause with a two-run single in the third.
"We had a lot of hitting practice this week, that's for sure," said Dee Bonds, Salesian's coach for the last 23 years. "They just stepped up big time."
Of Salesian's two losses this season, one of them came to St. Patrick's two weeks ago during the Tri-County Athletic League tournament. But this time Conley was sharp, working a shutout through six innings. She finished with seven strikeouts and gave up six hits.
Having seen the Bruins (19-11-2) three times already this year also helped.
"You know their weakness and you know what they're good at," Conley said. "You know where you need to be placing the ball, especially for me when I'm pitching."
Conley pitched injured in last year's NCS Division IV title game, also against St. Patrick's. But with her fully healthy this year, the Pride exacted their revenge on the Bruins.
-- Stephanie Hammon