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El Camino Cools Off Narbonne in Big Way

With Woodland Hills gripped in summer-like heat, spectators at Thursday’s El Camino Real-Narbonne softball game looked for ways to beat the heat. Some brought bags of ice. Others lugged ice chests and water jugs, refreshing their thirsts throughout the afternoon.

El Camino Coach Neils Ludlow, though, would have been sweating if the game had been played in an igloo. Winning streaks have a way of making a coach nervous. Especially a 52-game win streak that spans 2 1/2 years.

But for the second straight playoff game, El Camino had no trouble moving one step closer to its fourth consecutive City 4-A championship with a 17-1 victory over Narbonne in the quarterfinals. In the first round, El Camino defeated Poly, 29-0.

El Camino advances to Wednesday’s semifinal round where the team meets Sylmar, the last team to defeat El Camino, winning 1-0 in 1984.

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But on Thursday, El Camino extended its state-record win streak to 53 behind the pitching of sophomore Beth Silverman, who threw a two-hitter. She struck out 11 and did not allow an earned run to improve El Camino’s overall record to 17-0. Narbonne finished the season 15-8.

“I feel the pressure,” Ludlow said after win No. 53. “I don’t like to talk to the players about how many games in a row we’ve won. I try and downplay it, but I feel it inside. Sometimes I start pacing before the game and the kids will come up and tell me to relax.”

It took just one inning for Ludlow to relax.

In the bottom of the first, El Camino took advantage of three errors by Narbonne first baseman Geena Bendy and scored five unearned runs.

With runners on first and second and one out, Silverman singled home Lisa Mahl for El Camino’s first run and a wild pitch made it 2-0. After Debbie Onestinghel followed with a walk to load the bases, Lisa Huffaker hit a chopper to the shortstop who failed to get a force at third, and Silverman scored for a 3-0 lead.

One out later, Tammy Ottino’s grounder to shortstop looked like the end of the inning, but Bendy misplayed the throw and two more runs scored.

Silverman lowered her earned-run average that is almost out-of-sight anyway. She brought a 0.07 ERA into Thursday’s game and has allowed only one earned run all season.

“I just had a feeling we’d do good today,” Silverman said. “Every time I pitch I feel like the record is on the line. I want to keep it going as much as possible.”

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Silverman lost her no-hit bid in the third inning when Bendy blooped a single down the right-field line. With El Camino leading 9-0 in the fourth, Silverman lost her shutout when shortstop Darci Stehlik faked a throw at a runner at third base and the ball slipped out of her hand, allowing Kim Peterson to score.

Stehlik led El Camino’s offense with a walk, two singles, a three-run homer, and scored four runs. Second baseman Stacy Trapp hit a double, a two-run homer and scored three runs.

“We’re starting to peak at the right time,” Ludlow said. “The girls are really hitting the ball well.


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