Elk Grove Unified School District teams have defined Sac-Joaquin Section Division I softball for the past decade.
Elk Grove schools have won seven consecutive D-I championships and nine of the last 11.
In Monday night's winners' bracket games, it looked like more Elk Grove district dominance for a while.
On one Sacramento Softball Complex diamond, Pleasant Grove shocked unbeaten and nationally ranked Vintage of Napa 3-1. On the adjacent diamond, Elk Grove led Bee top-ranked Rocklin 3-0 entering the bottom of the sixth inning.
But there's a reason Rocklin (26-3) is enjoying its best softball season in school history under second-year coach Marissa Hardy.
The Thunder tied the score 3-3 in the sixth highlighted by Cali Lewis' two-run homer to center field then won in the ninth, 4-3, on freshman Carli Cutler's walk-off base hit. Sophomore Kylee Barnes set up the winning run with a two-out double to center.
Rocklin will play a 5 p.m. winners' bracket game today against Pleasant Grove.
"Elk Grove always has a great program," Hardy said. "We knew we had to play our 'A' game, but our girls never doubted themselves."
Elk Grove took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on Kimberly Wilburn's single, then looked as if it was going to deliver a knockout blow in the fifth.
Taryn Renowden's two-run double gave the Thundering Herd a 3-0 lead, and the bases loaded were loaded with none out before Maddie Wuelfing, in relief of Kendall Chambers, retired the next three batters.
Although his team's game finished well before, Pleasant Grove coach Chris Murray was unable to stick around to accept congratulations and scout Rocklin.
He hurried off to see his daughter, Amber Murray, be honored at Pleasant Grove as the school's Female Athlete of the Year.
Before departing, Amber Murray, a senior catcher, did Dad proud. She factored into all of Pleasant Grove's runs in helping hand Vintage (29-1) its first loss.
The Eastern Kentucky scholarship signee hit a solo home run in the first inning and set up the Eagles' second run in the third when she sacrificed Marissa Maligad to second and Maligad scored on a throwing error. Murray also singled with one out in the fifth and scored on pinch hitter Amy Hutchinson's hit.
"I'm proud of her, as I am all my girls," Murray said. "We had a game plan coming in, and they followed it perfectly."
In other Monday highlights:
Casa Roble rallied for three runs in the sixth inning on RBI doubles by Mya Reynolds and Kayla Marderos and a sacrifice fly by Kaitlyn Garcia to beat Benicia 4-3 and advance to Wednesday's D-II championship game.
Despite a blister on her throwing hand, Christian Brothers' Haley Snyder struck out 18 in a two-hitter and scored the only run in the first inning as the Falcons beat Vanden 1-0 to stay alive in the D-II losers' bracket. Christian Brothers faces Benicia at 6 p.m. today. Rochelle Roberts pitched a two-hitter for Vanden.
Emily Bruecker pitched a one-hitter as Elk Grove defeated Enochs 8-0 to advance to today's 5 p.m. D-I losers' bracket game against Vintage.
Erica Guzman's sixth-inning home run enabled Enochs to top Roseville 1-0 and eliminate the Tigers.
Call The Bee's Bill Paterson, (916) 326-5506.