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SOUTHERN SECTION SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS : 5-A DIVISION : Lopez Survives Early Woes to Beat Fountain Valley, 1-0

Bases loaded and no outs. Time to call for help.

Instead, Newbury Park pitcher Lea Lopez took control and retired the next 21 batters to lead her team to a 1-0 victory over Fountain Valley in a Southern Section 5-A semifinal at Golden West College.

Lopez had walked the first two batters she faced and then gave up a hit to load the bases.

She said she couldn’t remember the last time she had walked two consecutive batters. “I was just so nervous, thinking, ‘Oh, this is the semifinals,’ ” she said. “I was just getting the bugs out. But finally, I loosened up.”

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And, after finding her rhythm, she struck out 11.

Newbury Park scored its only run in the first inning. With one out, Cami Ferris bunted and reached first on a throwing error by Fountain Valley pitcher Rae Rice.

Lopez singled to right field with Ferris stopping at second. One out later, Marcie James grounded to shortstop, but Kristin Santa Cruz’s throw to first was wild and Ferris scored from second.

When Fountain Valley came up in the bottom of the first, Lopez walked the first two batters. Catcher Shannon Dolan followed with a single to center.

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Lopez, however, was not fazed. Rice grounded to James, who forced Jennifer Alchin out at home. Lopez then struck out Kravik and retired Jody Bixler, who bunted straight at her.

"(Lopez) is definitely one of the top three pitchers (we’ve faced), that’s for sure,” Fountain Valley Coach Cary Baker said. “She moved the ball around, changed speeds and kept us off balance. She kept the ball down--we haven’t seen anyone who kept the ball down as much as she did.

“After that first inning, it was a pitcher’s duel,” Baker said. “They took advantage of the first inning, and we didn’t. After that, no one challenged anything.”


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