Thousand Oaks Falls in 4-A Softball Final

The momentum that carried the Thousand Oaks High softball team farther than it had ever gone in the school's 25-year history ran out Saturday night at Mayfair Park in Lakewood.

Thousand Oaks, the first Marmonte League team to reach the Southern Section 4-A championship, was defeated by Cypress, 5-0.

"We came a long way and a lot farther than most people thought we would," Thousand Oaks Coach Chuck Brown said. "But we'll be back next year. That's what I'm going to tell my players."

Led by the pitching of senior Nicky Luce, Cypress, which finished third in the Empire League, was in control throughout the game. Luce struck out 10 Lancers en route to pitching a three-hitter.

"We tried real hard," said Luce, who was 3 for 4 and scored a run. "Without my teammates, I couldn't have done it."

Cypress (22-8) took the lead with two runs in the third inning. With two out, Diane Pohl walked and Luce followed with a ground-rule double to left. Joanne Brodeur followed with a shot down the left-field line that just went over the third base bag. Both runners scored as Brodeur was safe at second with a stand-up double.

Thousand Oaks (23-9), meanwhile, could mount little offense. With an overpowering fastball and an occasional change-up, Luce kept the Lancers guessing. Four times Luce retired the side in order, finishing with 10 strikeouts.

Behind the left field fence, Luce's supporters hung Ks on the fence with each strikeout.

"They've been doing that since the beginning of the CIF playoffs," Luce said.

The Centurions added three runs in the sixth inning with the help of three Lancer errors.

"They made us make mistakes," Brown said.

Three consecutive Cypress batters reached base in the inning before Sandy Buckner and Diane Pohl followed with RBI singles. One more run scored on a throwing error by third baseman Jamie McDaniel.

Cypress, which finished with nine hits, might have scored more if the Centurions hadn't left 10 runners on base.

Thousand Oaks pitcher Shireen Campbell was tagged for seven hits before being replaced by Molly Moore. With the loss, Campbell's record dropped to 13-7.

Campbell pitched out of jams in the first five innings. In the first inning, she had only thrown two pitches before the game was halted by the umpires who cited her with an illegal pitch to Toni Sauce. The umpires said Campbell was not coming to a set position for a full second.

"They said she was rocking back and forth," Brown said. "Once you present the ball your motion must be forward, and they said she was leaning backward."

After Campbell settled down, Cypress had runners on first and second before Campbell induced Brodeur to ground into a force play at third.

Campbell pitched out of another jam in the second inning. With one out and the bases loaded, Thousand Oaks center fielder Shani Smyth caught Heidi Heim's shallow fly ball and threw to catcher Julie Chellevold to double-up Karen Kuypers.

Chellevold, a junior, had all three Thousand Oaks hits.

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