Molinari, Grizzlies outlast Senators

Jenn Molinari received credit for pitching a complete game for the Galena High School softball team on Tuesday afternoon.

It may have seemed more like two, though, because the sophomore right-hander worked 10 innings and threw 170 pitches to help the Grizzlies pull out a come-from-behind 4-3 Northern 4A victory at Carson.

Galena scored three runs in the top of the seventh to send the game into extra innings and Tiffany Christie slammed a two-out home run in the 10th to decide a duel between Carson's Nicole Freeman and Molinari.

Anyone who has followed the Carson-Galena rivalry won't be surprised at the closeness of the score - or the overtime. The Senators beat Molinari 2-1 in a game that went nine innings in Carson City last March. Galena won the rematch at home a month later by the same score and the Grizzlies went on to win the 4A state championship. The two teams also faced each other in the zone and state championship games in both 1997 and '98.

"Our games always seem to be real battles," said Galena coach Teresa Burrows, whose club evened its conference record at 1-1 (3-3 overall). "It was nice to pull this one out."

Even though Carson (5-3) lost its third straight game, coach John Sullivan saw some positive signs.

"That was a good game," Sullivan said. "We played a lot better than we did Saturday (doubleheader loss at Wooster). Our intensity was good and we seemed to be relaxed and I was glad to see that. It is important to win these games, but it's more important to get ready so you can win in May when tournament time rolls around."

The Senators had their opportunities in this game. They also had the lead.

Brandi Cotroneo walked and scored on Freeman's single in the first. Then in the fifth, Tricia Hudgins delivered a run-scoring double before scoring on a passed ball as Carson extended its lead to 3-0.

Galena came back to score three runs after two outs in the seventh, thanks to Abby Parker's one-run single to left, followed by Brooke Holland's two-run base hit up the middle to tie the score.

Carson threatened again in the ninth when Vicki Parsons led off with an infield hit. Freeman and Kellie Karasek - Carson's No. 3 and 4 hitters - were issued walks with two outs, and then Molinari escaped from the jam on a ground ball to Keri Schlosser at second base.

Galena won it in the 10th when Christie drilled a 2-2 pitch well over the fence at the flagpole in left-center. The senior first baseman hit 3-for-5 in the game with a double.

"Christie sure whacked that ball," Sullivan said. "She's a good softball player."

Molinari and Freeman also happen to be returning all-conference pitchers from last year - and they showed it.

"That was a great effort by Jenn. She doesn't overpower hitters, she moves the ball around and keeps them off balance and the team plays good defense behind her," Burrows said.

"I just wanted to play hard," said Molinari, who allowed six hits, walked seven and struck out 11. "We wanted it and my team came through. They got some crucial hits."

Freeman gave up eight hits and no walks to go with eight strikeouts in her second start of the season.

"Nicole threw really well," Sullivan said. "She's had a bad knee, but that isn't bothering her anymore."

Jina Padilla and Parsons hit 2-for-5 to lead Carson offensively. Hudgins also contributed her RBI double and she handled seven chances without error at shortstop, including a 6-3 double play in the first inning.


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