CONCORD -- After fouling off 14 pitches, A.J. Ross of the Concord High softball team finally got one she liked.
The senior hit a two-run single just past the Pinole Valley second baseman during an eventful fifth inning that keyed Concord's 5-2 win in the North Coast Section Division II quarterfinals on Saturday.
The Minutemen (20-4) scored three times in the fifth to take the lead for good after visiting Pinole Valley (20-6) had tied the game in the top half of the inning.
Monique Cook scored the go-ahead run, sliding in just in time to avoid a force out on a ground ball by Aleyna Benipayo. Then Ross delivered another blow by finishing off her 17-pitch at-bat with a two-run hit.
"That was great to see her battle and then come back and get a hit," Concord coach Megan Coddington said. "That deflates a pitcher's ego right there. I think you could see it on the defense's faces. The momentum was definitely in our favor at that point."
No. 4 seeded Concord advances to play top-seeded Petaluma in Tuesday's semifinals. The game will be a rematch of last year's championship game, which the Minutemen won 2-1.
Concord held a 2-0 lead through four innings, but Pinole Valley struck for two unearned runs in the fifth. Jessica Rogers and Bailey Simmons, who reached on back-to-back base hits, both scored when an errant throw to try to get Rogers stealing third base sailed into the outfield.
The lead didn't last long as Concord loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom half of the inning.
"These girls just pick each other up, they've been doing it all season long," Coddington said.
Concord pitcher Kelly Drake retired the final eight batter she faced to make the lead stand up. She junior struck out six.