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SOUTHERN SECTION SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS : Last Dance Is Early for Sunny Hills

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Three Sunny Hills’ starters decided to attend the ball rather than tend to softball Friday, and the Lancers ended up being waltzed right out of the playoffs.

Coach Ed Copelin knew his team was going to have trouble scoring in its opening-round Southern Section 4-A playoff game against fourth-seeded Garden Grove. It wasn’t just because the Lancers were facing Stephanie Smith, Orange County’s strikeout leader. They were going to face her without three starters--including two of their best hitters--because of a conflict with the prom.

Smith pitched a two-hitter and beat the Lancers, 1-0, at Mark Twain Special Center in Garden Grove.

Leadoff batter Kelly Ward and cleanup hitter Shannon Brown--Sunny Hills’ top two hitters--decided to skip the game and instead get ready for the prom. Second baseman Susan Porter left after five innings.

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“I respect the young ladies’ decision,” Copelin said. “I would like to have had them play, sure. If it had been my daughter I would have made arrangements so she could have played the game and gone to the prom later, but they’re not my daughters. I still respect their decision.”

He didn’t have much respect for Garden Grove’s refusal to change the game time, though.

“My athletic director, Ralph Trigsted, who has been an A.D. for at least 10 years and a coach for 17, said he has never heard of anybody not willing to work with you,” Copelin said.

Garden Grove Coach Paula Cervantes said changing the game time would have interfered with her practice schedule.

“I have batting instructors come and help me and I plan my whole practice out. . . . It wasn’t feasible,” Cervantes said. “I had appointments I couldn’t break.

“They wanted to move the game to 2 o’clock, but I have a large student-body following and our kids weren’t allowed to get out of class. Sunny Hills didn’t have school today.

“I know they were very upset with us and they lost some of their players to the prom, but I’ll tell you, in my past experience I have had CIF games on prom days and my girls have made the decision (to) play ball and then go to the prom.”

Sunny Hills played solid defense and freshman Bernie Fancuberta (11-10) pitched a five-hitter with three strikeouts and one walk, but no Lancer advanced past first base.

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Garden Grove scored in the fifth when Celeste Gordon hit a one-hop single to right, took second when the right fielder bobbled the ball and scored on Nakia Houston’s line single to right-center.

Smith (22-4-1), the most valuable player in the Garden Grove League, dominated. She struck out nine, upping her county-leading total to 291.


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