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Cool-Hand Ouzts Comes Through for Moorpark in 3-2 Win

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Cedric Maxwell would have been waving and twirling that towel.

Malia Ouzts, though, just wanted to cool herself off.

She repeatedly rubbed her face with a wet cloth after the Moorpark College softball game, wiping off the dirt and grime and mopping sweat from her forehead.

But no towel was going to be enough to wipe the smile off Ouzts’ face, not after she drove in the winning run with a double to center in the ninth inning to give the fourth-seeded Lady Raiders a 3-2 victory Wednesday over 13th-seeded Cerritos College in the first round of the Southern California junior college regional tournament at Moorpark.

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“I think we had a lot of people praying for us, including me,” said Ouzts, who Moorpark Coach Will Thurston said had been suffering from the heat.

“I didn’t anticipate that the heat was going to affect our team as much as it did,” Thurston said. “But Malia, she’s always been real sensitive to high temperatures, and in the later innings she was feeling dizzy and we were trying to keep her from having fainting spells.”

Ouzts, the catcher, didn’t wither at the plate in ninth, and, as a result, Cerritos (27-14) faded out of the 16-team tournament on Ouzts’ one-out shot that brought in pinch-runner Janeen Duncan from second base.

The Lady Raiders (26-10-1) will face San Diego Mesa in a best-of-three series in the second round of the regionals Saturday and Sunday at Moorpark. San Diego Mesa defeated Rancho Santiago, 5-1, in a first-round game.

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Duncan, running for Julie Preston, who opened the ninth with a walk, moved into scoring position on Wendy Tabakman’s sacrifice bunt.

Although Ouzts drove in the deciding run, freshman Julie Myers was the reason the Lady Raiders were in position to win. Myers’ two-out, two-strike single to left in the seventh scored Ouzts from second and tied the score, 2-2.

“It was scary,” Myers said. “I almost started crying, because if it wouldn’t have dropped, it would have been over.”

Cerritos took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when winning pitcher De Dow (18-6) gave up a leadoff walk and two singles.

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