FORTUNA -- Nicole Tompkins and Courtney Christensen provided the big sticks for the Huskies with home runs.
The little things, however, did in the No. 4 Fortuna High softball team Friday in a season-ending 6-2 North Coast Section Division 4 playoff loss.
”They took advantage of our mistakes,” Helms said. “We failed on execution. And that potentially cost us from getting back into the game.”
In the end, the visiting No. 12 San Rafael Bulldogs just had more bite.
”It's nice being the underdog,” said Bulldogs boss Meaghan Partee. “It's been a lot of fun. The girls have chosen a great time to peak.”
The tide turned in San Rafael's favor in the sixth inning.
Christensen's dead center blast tied the contest at two apiece going into the inning, but, it didn't take San Rafael (11-16 overall) long to respond -- thanks in large part to Fortuna (18-8).
Kailey Brown stroked a double to lead off the frame and a pop fly dropped in center field put Olivia Dallara on the base. Brown advanced to third on the error and Dallara alertly scampered to second as the Huskies were focused on Brown.
An ensuing wild pitch brought Brown home, and Ashley Mellor's RBI single -- a chopper over and behind the Huskies defense -- drove in Dallara.
The score would remain that way until the seventh.
After a single, a hit batsman and walk loaded the bases, Mellor smoked a liner down the third base
”We were never able to jump on top of them,” Helms said. “We would tie the game, but, we were never able to take the lead.”
To say it's Partee time for the roaring Bulldogs is an understatement. The victory was the second upset-style win San Rafael has picked up in the NCS bracket as the squad dropped No. 5 Clear Lake 7-4 Wednesday.
Paced by its slugger Dallara and ace Sami Mericle, San Rafael collared the Huskies to continue it's fantastic streak in the postseason.
”It's been nearly a decade since we've been to the playoffs,” Partee said. “We haven't been to the postseason since 2004. It's been nine years since we were in the Marin County League (MCAL) or NCS playoffs.”
The Bulldogs await the winner of Saturday's No. 1 Salesian-No. 9 Marin Catholic tilt.
Dallara's second-inning first-pitch home run -- her third of the postseason -- over the left field fence was the first score of the afternoon.
Despite giving up a pair of home runs and getting reprimanded for a trio of illegal pitches, San Rafael's Mericle -- pronounced miracle -- worker did not lose concentration. Even with two Huskies on base threatening to score in the second, fourth, sixth and seventh innings, the Oberlin College (Ohio)-bound senior still managed to strike out seven and stayed the course.
”We haven't been called for one all season,” Partee said of the illegal pitches. “They said she was crow hopping. But, she stayed really focused and it showed. It was a tough game for us because they had a lot of big hitters.”
The Huskies' other big hit was a third inning leadoff home run by Tompkins. But that, along with Christensen's shot, were all Mericle and the Bulldogs would allow.
”They came with no runners on, though,” Helms poignantly said of the home runs.