SOUTHERN SECTION 4-A SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS : Kennedy's Longeway Gets Lots of Assistance

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cheryl Longeway struggled, but the Kennedy High School pitcher got plenty of support in the field and at the plate in a 6-1 victory over Valencia in the second round of the Southern Section 4-A playoffs.

Kennedy (23-3-1) will meet Villa Park (15-10-1), a 1-0 winner in 11 innings over Rolling Hills Tuesday, in the quarterfinals Friday at a site to be determined.

Longeway (19-3-1) struck out only two batters, gave up three hits, threw two wild pitches and walked one.

Valencia (18-9) continually put the ball in play, but the Kennedy defense was flawless.

On offense, the Fighting Irish teed off on Valencia'sNatasha Dumoski for nine hits, including five in a five-run fifth inning.

"I felt that today was a good day to show how good our team was," Kennedy Coach Sue Hall said. "The team backed Cheryl up real well. A couple of girls dove and stole a couple of hits. A few girls got hits who haven't been getting hits lately and it was a total team effort. It wasn't 'Rely on Cheryl.' "

A good thing, because Longeway struggled.

"She was throwing something that was coming in low on the ground," Hall said. "I was asking her if she was trying to bowl a strike."

It was Longeway's wild pitches that brought home Valencia's only run, in the bottom of the fourth. Stephanie Ritchey singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch, took third on Roseanna Garcia's ground out to short, then came home an out later on Longeway's second wild pitch of the inning.

"When you get into a (runner-at-third) situation like that you kind of pump up," Longeway said. "I wanted to emphasize the pitches (that were) working and it didn't come out that way. My rise ball sometimes curves out instead of up and that is pretty much what happened when I tried to over-emphasize the rise."

Longeway, who led Kennedy to the section title two years ago as a freshman, had no explanation for her current problem. She was adamant that it was not a tired pitching arm.

"I don't know what's wrong with me," Longeway said. "Maybe my nerves are getting to me or something. My arm feels fine. I'm just pitching slow."

Hall was unfazed. "She is not throwing like she can, but I'm not worried," Hall said. "She buckles down when she has to . . . If we're going to lose, we're going to lose as a team, not because of Cheryl."

Longeway helped herself at the plate with two walks, two singles, a run scored and an RBI. Kennedy's Andrina Hustead also had two hits and scored a run in the third with the help of two Valencia errors.

Valencia's Stephanie McDiarmid had a triple in the bottom of the sixth, but was stranded.

"They made the contact, and we couldn't get any offense generated to make the big play for ourselves," Valencia Coach Debbie Fassel said. "I told the kids they had nothing to be ashamed of. We just couldn't get any hitting going. I would have liked to have had that triple with some runners on."

In other 4-A games:

Garden Grove 9, San Marcos 1--Stephanie Smith pitched a four-hitter and had three hits, three RBIs and scored twice to lead Garden Grove (23-4-1). Celeste Gordon had two hits and scored, Michelle Cash had two hits and two RBIs and Becky Eggers had two hits, a run scored and an RBI for the Argonauts.

Savanna 1, Glendale 0--Savanna was outhit, 4-2, but scored in the second to win at Glendale. Jackie Boxley hit a sacrifice fly and Leigh Sager pitched her seventh shutout for Savanna.

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