A four-run surge in the sixth inning ensured a win for the Rancho Cotate High School softball team in a 9-2 defeat of Analy High School Thursday afternoon in Sebastopol — in the last game the Tigers will ever play.
With the upcoming consolidation of El Molino High School and Analy, it was a bittersweet conclusion to the Tigers’ softball legacy as the team will look completely different under a still-to-be-determined name and mascot when players step onto the field next season.
Analy head coach Nick Houtz, who has been a part of the team for the last 26 years, stood on the field named after him following the game.
“It didn't really affect me until today when I was in the shower, and then it really hit me. And anyway, yeah, I didn't want it to go out this way, but Rancho is a good team,” Houtz said.
Houtz plans to return after the two schools come together but solemnly had to accept an end to the Analy softball legacy.
“You know it’s a sad day because change is scary. There’s a long-standing tradition of Analy being a very competitive program. Nick has done a fabulous job of building this program and really solidify himself as one of the great ones here in this area. So, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens,” said Rancho head coach Tracey Poueu-Guerrero.
In Thursday’s game, Rancho’s offense got going in the first.
A single and a stolen base from Kailey Yahya, followed by a high-arching hit to right field, put runners on first and third. Tatum Maytorena hit the ball deep to left field, and an error allowed Yahya and Guerrero to score, taking a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the third, the Cougars’ offense struck again as Hailey Wyatt reached first on a walk, a sac bunt from Kayla Dixon and an errant pitch advanced Wyatt to third.
On the next at-bat, Kyra Reep approached the plate and powerfully drove a double into right field, sending home Wyatt — increasing the lead to 3-0.
An inning later in the bottom of the fourth, the Tigers’ Elliot Gorath reached on a single that hopped over the third base infielder. Two Rancho errors later, Gorath had a free run home, shortening the lead to 3-1.
In the top of the fifth after an excellent defensive play by the Tigers to get an out at first, the Cougars’ Dixon, Reep and Kayla Mahnken’s back-to-back-to-back singles loaded the bases.
But on the next at-bat, Lopes sent a high line drive to the right of second base. Analy’s Elena Salgado extended her arm, came down with the ball and in one motion ran over second to get a double play.
In the sixth, Rancho’s offense ignited. Yahya reached second on an error, and Guerrero drove her home on a low line drive over first base. Next, Maytorena drove Guerrero to score and reached home herself after several errors. The onslaught continued as Wyatt, after fouling off what felt like a dozen pitches, found the one she liked and delivered a home run a good 20 yards past the back fence.
Rancho led 7-1. “I have a team of girls who are really playing for one another and not for that individual status,” Poueu-Guerrero said. In the bottom of the sixth, Analy’s Gorath hit a base hit. A couple of hitters later, Kylie Bauman hit the ball deep into centerfield to drive in Gorath.
In the top of the seventh, the Cougars’ 6 hit a single and 52 hit a double. Two sac fly RBIs from Maytorena and Wyatt drove in Yahya and Guerrero to secure the 9-2 victory.