SAN RAFAEL, Calif. – Softball often comes down to pitching and the Marin County Athletic League showdown between visiting Marin Catholic-Kentfield and host San Rafael was a classic pitcher’s duel between Wildcats’ ace Rose Malen and San Rafael freshman standout Thomara Drummer.
In the end it was Malen that came out on top after the Chapman College-bound senior tossed a one-hitter with 16 strikeouts and one walk in an 8-inning Wednesday evening 1-0 Marin Catholic victory.
With one out in the top of the eighth freshman catcher and eighth-place batter Anya Jaroszewski smoked a double into the right-centerfield alley. She moved to second on a groundout by Lauren Gogna.
Up stepped leadoff hitter Sammy Horn. The speedy Boston College-committed junior second sacker had reached twice previously on bunt singles. With the threat of possibly trying to bunt home Jaroszewski and beat the throw to first like Horn had done two previous times, San Rafael had its third-base girl Megan Murphy playing down the line from third a bit. This time Horn hit a hot smash right at Murphy who could not field the ball and it deflected to shortstop Kelsey McNair. She threw home but by that time Jaroszewski had crossed the plate. Horn finished 3-for-4 with the one run batted in.
Malen, who had a no-hitter going until giving up a single to Drummer to open the seventh, took the circle and retired the side in order on a strikeout, a grounder to second, and strikeout No. 16 to end the game.
It was a masterful and dominating performance by Malen, and what she has been doing in all four games she’s pitched for a 6-0 Marin Catholic team that improved to 2-0 in league play.
When Malen walked the leadoff batter to open the bottom of the first inning it was her first walk of the season. No problem. She proceeded to retire the next 17 batters until Sophia Everett, who drew the first-inning walk, reached on a dropped pop-up. Malen was so dominant in the circle that at one point during the 17 straight outs she struck out seven consecutive batters.
“What you saw from Rose today is what we have been getting all season,” said Marin Catholic head coach Dave Albini. “We feel like with Rose pitching we’ll be in every game."
For her part Malen wanted to talk more about the team.
“Everyone brought a lot of energy because we knew it was going to be a hard game,” said Malen, who not only can spin a softball but is one of the top golfers in the MCAL and also carries a 4.3 GPA in the classroom. “Our defense played well behind me and our hitting came together to string home a run.”
But what about her performance?
“I knew they were going to be tough so I came ready,” Malen said succinctly.
Malen, who has great movement on her pitches and tops out at in the high 50’s with her fastball, is now 4-0 with a 0.50 ERA and 53 strikeouts and the one base on balls and only 12 hits in 28 innings pitched. She came into the game batting .400 but didn’t get a hit against Drummer, although she did reach on an error after one hardest hit balls of the game was dropped by the leftfielder.
San Rafael (3-3, 0-2) got a solid performance from Drummer. The tall right-hander only gave up five hits with two of them bunts, and two of them where Bulldogs players got gloves on them, including the game-winner. The only real solid hit was the double by Jaroszewski. She struck out four with no walks.
It doesn’t get any easier for Malen and the Wildcats as they travel to perennial CIF North Coast Section Division 1 power Amador Valley-Pleasanton for a late Thursday afternoon match-up.