The softballs used in the City Section 4-A Division semifinal game between El Camino Real and Cleveland highs could very well be reboxed and placed on a shelf in a sporting-goods store.
Or, where Conquistadore pitcher Chrissy Peck is concerned, K mart.
The senior right-hander struck out 10 and walked none en route to her fifth no-hitter of the season in a 1-0 win Wednesday at South Gate Park.
Cleveland starter Jill Preston (4-2) was almost as effective. Preston allowed just one hit--a run-scoring single in the third inning--and walked three.
Peck had a perfect game through 3 1/3 innings until second baseman Alisha Knopf dropped Liz Lopez's popup after a near-collision with first baseman Jenny Fleming.
"We have a really strong defense, they played really well so I wasn't worried (about the baserunner)," said Peck, who improved to 22-3.
El Camino Real (22-3), the two-time defending City 4-A champion, will make its eighth consecutive appearance in the title game when it faces West Valley League rival Chatsworth, a 2-1 winner over San Fernando, a week from today at Cal State Northridge.
Over the first three innings Wednesday, Peck recorded seven strikeouts--including the side in the first and third innings.
The Cavaliers sent just three batters to the plate in every inning except the sixth but still made a good showing considering they had been drubbed, 17-0, by El Camino Real earlier in the season.
"Cleveland played great defense," El Camino Real Coach Neils Ludlow said.
"I thought we would score more runs but in the playoffs you just don't know."
Carrie Bischoff led off the El Camino Real third with a walk on four pitches and advanced to third when Preston's throw after Erin McGuire's bunt bounced past Lopez at first. Bischoff later scored on No. 9 hitter Ann Antis' bloop single to right.
Cleveland's Julie Good reached base on an error in the sixth but was erased when Rachel Thomas hit into a fielder's choice.
"We were really looking forward to that run," interim Cleveland Coach Keith Wieser said. "But their defense really bore down in the sixth. When there's a baserunner, their defense steps up and that's what makes them a good ballclub."