PLEASANTON — Lauren Hermes could be excused for being fired up when she stepped into the batter’s box in the fifth inning.
For the second consecutive turn through the order Thursday, Amador Valley issued intentional walks to pitch to the Foothill senior.
The first time, Hermes struck out.
The second time, she struck down Amador Valley with a soaring three-run homer into the teeth of the wind in right field, the blast breaking a scoreless tie and sending the Falcons to an 8-0 victory over their archrival in the East Bay Athletic League championship game.
“I’ve been at Foothill 35 years,” coach Matt Sweeney said after his team beat Amador for the second time in a week. “That’s as good a win as I’ve been a part of in my career, football, softball, whatever. That’s a great victory.”
Nicole May had another sensational outing in the pitching circle, allowing two hits while striking out seven.
But the story of the day was Foothill’s offense, which stranded two runners in the second inning and three in the third but cleared the bases with Hermes’ big swing in the fifth.
“I was a little angry at that point,” Hermes said, noting Amador’s decision to walk May and Courtney Beaudin. “I really wanted to get a hit.”
Hermes’ shot off Amador ace Danielle Williams was a no-doubter, wind and all, as she took out her aggression on the first pitch.
Asked if she knew it would clear the fence, a smiling Hermes added, “Yeah. I was pretty exciting.”
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Given May’s dominance in the circle, one run probably would have been enough, just as it was a week earlier when Foothill edged Amador 1-0.
But the Falcons (22-3) continued to battle, as the blue shirt Sweeney wore stated. They sent nine batters to the plate in the seventh inning and five of them scored, an exclamation point if there ever was one as Amador fell to 19-5-1.
“Last Thursday at our place we got them 1-0, and I think that gave us a little more confidence,” Sweeney said.
Foothill had to work some magic just to reach the final, rallying from a 2-1 deficit in the final inning against Carondelet on Tuesday to win 4-2.
Thursday, the Falcons struck out 12 times against the Northwestern-bound Williams but also had 10 hits.
“I knew we were going to have good at-bats,” Sweeney said. “We really did a great job. Nicole pitched fantastic. We put a lot of pressure on them all game long. We finally kicked the door in. Hermy got the big three-run homer, and we extended there in the seventh. We have a lot of tough, competitive girls.”
Both teams will now await this weekend’s North Coast Section seeding meeting. They will be part of a stacked Division I bracket that will include Freedom, Heritage and James Logan, among others.
“They had a good day and we had an off day,” Amador coach Teresa Borchard said. “Hats off to them. They did a great job.”
Foothill won the section title last season, beating Logan in the final, and hopes to be seeded at the top next week.
“We’re going for the 1 seed,” Sweeney said. “I know Freedom beat us head-to-head, but I still think we’re the 1 seed. We beat that team (Amador) twice.”
Heritage and Freedom will share the Bay Valley Athletic League softball title again after both won regular-season finales Thursday to finish with identical 9-1 league records.
Riley Ehlen had three hits, drove in four runs and scored twice to lead Heritage (16-3) past Antioch 9-1.
Freedom (20-1) got three RBIs from McKenna Marshall and a five-inning, one-hitter with 10 strikeouts from Vanessa Strong in its 12-0 rout of Liberty .
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Berkeley allowed a run in the first inning, then scored the next 10 on its way to a 10-1 rout of Alameda in the West Alameda County Conference Foothill League championship game. The Yellow Jackets improved to 22-4. Alameda fell to 23-2-1. … Piedmont scored two runs in the seventh to force extra innings and two in the eighth to stun Encinal 4-2 in the WACC Shoreline League title game. Max Bekes drove in two runs and Ryan Fitzgerald and Ben Levinson each pitched four innings for Piedmont (16-9-1). Encinal slid to 18-7-1.
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