In Tuesday’s key Sonoma County League home showdown with the defending champions, the Sonoma Valley High School varsity softball girls turned in a spirited overall effort and delivered a message to perennial SCL power Petaluma that they’re not intimated and are definitely in the thick of the title race.

Battling the reigning SCL and North Coast Section champion Trojan girls to a seven-inning tie that held up until the ninth frame, Sonoma was dealt a heartbreaking 6-5 loss at the high school field.

But the young Lady Dragons, with six freshmen on the roster, bounced back in a big way on Wednesday in Santa Rosa by posting a five-inning, 10-run-rule 13-3 SCL rout of Piner.

After taking an early 2-1 lead against Petaluma, the Sonoma girls fell behind and were down by one run going into their last at-bats, when senior Lindsey Rocha’s RBI capped a bottom of the seventh rally that forged a 5-5 tie and sent the clash of longtime SCL rivals into extra innings.

With both teams unable to score in the eighth inning, the international tie-breaker – placing a runner at second base to start the inning – went into effect and the Trojan girls broke the deadlock with a quick run. But Petaluma was denied another by Sonoma’s solid defense and the pitching of junior Hannah Herrick.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Lady Dragons had the tying run on third base, and the winning run at second base with one out when Rocha’s searing line drive to left field hung up long enough to be caught and turned into a double play that enabled Petaluma to escape the Valley with the win.

Sonoma was paced by senior Amber Rose’s two-for-three with an RBI and one run scored; senior Michelle Stovall’s two-for-five; junior Shawny McVeigh’s single and two RBIs; Rocha’s single, one RBI and one run; senior Samantha Richards’ single and two runs; frosh Hayden Pearce’s single and RBI; frosh Bella Fanucchi’s single; and frosh Katie Stovall’s run.

Leading the Lady Dragons’ runaway win over Piner were winning pitcher Pearce’s three-for-four, including a double, four RBIs and a run; junior Autumn McElroy’s three-for-three, including a double, three RBIs and two runs; Rose’s three-for-four with two runs; McVeigh’s two-for-three with an RBI and two runs; Richards’ two-for-four with an RBI and run; Katie Stovall and Madeline Lentini’s one-for-three with a run each; and Fanucchi’s single and Rocha’s run.

Sonoma’s softball girls had a bye yesterday, and will next host SCL foe El Molino at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 15, on the high school field.