Jenna Leavitt proudly held up the game ball as the Concord High softball team gathered for a photo Tuesday afternoon.
The No. 5 seeded Minutemen had a lot to smile about.
Behind Leavitt's two-hitter, Concord eliminated top-seeded Newark Memorial 3-1 in the semifinals to reach its second North Coast Section Division II championship game in three years.
Concord, which won its first NCS softball crown in school history in 2010, will play No. 3 Petaluma on Saturday at San Marin High. Game time will be announced later.
"We have five or six girls that were sophomores (in 2010) that are now seniors, so that definitely plays a huge role," Concord coach Megan Coddington said. "They know what it was like then and know what it takes to get there now."
Four days after traveling to the North Bay to defeat No. 4 Rancho Cotate-Rohnert Park, Concord was sharp against the visiting Cougars (21-5). The Minutemen, by virtue of winning the Diablo Valley Athletic League, earned the right to host Newark.
The Minutemen (23-4) had seven hits against Newark ace Marissa Chapa, who had pitched shutouts in her first two playoff games, and scored all their runs in the third inning.
Speedy Monique Cook got the rally started with a leadoff walk and scored on Sophia Benipayo's sacrifice fly. Nicole Santos and Aleyna Benipayo then delivered two-out RBI singles.
Leavitt and an excellent defense, led by shortstop Mickey Loveridge, did the
After hitting a batter with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to drive in the first run of the game (Newark won the coin toss and played as the home team), Leavitt retired nine in a row and allowed just three more base runners. She struck out eight.
"The fact that she's a senior and this was her last game on this field, I think she really just wanted to go out strong," Coddington said.
Petaluma 3, Alhambra 2: The No. 2 seed Bulldogs rallied to tie the game in the top of the seventh, but the No. 3 Trojans pushed one more across in the bottom of the inning to win their Division II semifinal in Martinez.
Alhambra (22-5) lost a coin toss before the game and had to play as the visiting team in its own ballpark.
That played a big role late in the game as the Bulldogs fought to even the score. Bella Gonsalves had the big hit for Alhambra, doubling down the left-field line with one out to score Jazzana McIntosh all the way from first.
Petaluma got one more shot. Alhambra pitcher Shannon DeVries retired the first two hitters, then gave up a double to No. 9 hitter Katie Bisges. An error allowed T.J. Watts to reach, then DeVries walked Nicole Wiecks to load the bases.
Looking for a strikeout, Bulldogs coach Paul Buccellato brought starter Erin Enke back into the game. Allie Corids put the ball in play, shooting a slow roller toward shortstop Kylee Perez.
It was slow enough that Perez had to hurry, her throw went low and first baseman Nicole Curry couldn't dig it out as the Trojans scored the winning run.
"That's definitely the best team we've played," Buccellato said. "We beat them once, they beat us once. They're hands down the best team we've played."
The Bulldogs had chances to break the game open but couldn't capitalize, leaving the bases loaded in the first and seventh innings. Perez and Hailey Sparacino each had a big game at the top of the lineup for Alhambra, combining to go 5 for 5 with three walks and two stolen bases.
-- Ben Enos
Girls track and field
Campolindo senior Carrie Verdon will not compete in the 3,200 meters at the CIF State Track and Field Championships on Saturday because of a right ankle injury, Campolindo coach Chuck Woolridge said.
In an e-mail to this newspaper, Woolridge said he would not comment on the exact injury until an MRI has been read by Verdon's doctor. He said it's the same ankle Verdon injured at the end of the 2011 cross country season.
According to Woolridge, Verdon began to feel significant pain in the ankle in Saturday's 3,200 race at the NCS Meet of Champions, which she won in an impressive time of 10:30.76.
The Colorado-bound Verdon finished third in last year's state championship 3,200 final. She advanced to the state championships in both the 1,600 and 3,200 last year, but raced in only the 3,200 in this year's NCS Meet of Champions.
-- Phil Jensen