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CITY SECTION 4-A DIVISION SOFTBALL PREVIEW : Upstart Holds Designs on Upset : Final: Chatsworth bids to sidetrack El Camino Real’s drive to its third championship in a row.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The players might have changed, but the results remain the same for the El Camino Real High softball team.

For the eighth year in a row, the Conquistadores have stepped into the City Section 4-A Division title game. El Camino Real (22-3) will try for its third consecutive City title and seventh in the past eight years when the Conquistadores meet Chatsworth today at 5 p.m. at Cal State Northridge. The Chancellors (13-5) are making their first appearance in the final.

“I’m just happy to get there,” Chatsworth Coach Gary Shair said. “I wish we could have played someone else because they’re an awfully good team. “We don’t have anything to lose and (we have) everything to gain. ECR is the defending City champs. If we lose, well, everyone expects us to lose.”

Although the Conquistadores’ presence in the championship game seems like a formality, Coach Neils Ludlow is not taking Chatsworth lightly.

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“It doesn’t really make a difference who plays who,” he said. “It’s not a ho-hum situation by any stretch of the imagination.”

El Camino Real pitcher Chrissy Peck, the latest of the windmill-style hurlers to come out of the Woodland Hills school, will attempt to win her second consecutive 4-A title game.

Beth Silverman (now at Arizona) pitched El Camino Real to City titles in 1986 and ’88, and third-string pitcher Jodi Iwafuchi helped the Conquistadores to a runner-up finish in ’87. Peck is picking up where her predecessors left off.

“I like pitching. I like having control of the game,” Peck said.

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Knowing the opposition this afternoon helps too.

El Camino Real beat Chatsworth twice this season, 4-0 and 5-0, in West Valley League play. In the teams’ most recent meeting three weeks ago, Peck surrendered two hits, one more than she has allowed in two playoff games.

“I’m glad it’s (Chatsworth in the final) because I know who the hitters are,” Peck said. “I know what order they’re in. I know what hitters to pitch around.”

Peck, a senior right-hander, allowed one hit in a quarterfinal against San Pedro on May 17 and threw a no-hitter in a 1-0 semifinal win over Cleveland last week. Clutch performances have become Peck’s trademark. In the 1989 championship game, Peck held San Pedro to one single in a 1-0 victory.

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“The cream always rises to the top,” Ludlow said. “She likes pitching against good athletes.

Peck, last year’s City 4-A Player of the Year, will put her 22-3 record and 0.11 earned-run average on the line. In 176 innings, she has 220 strikeouts.

When Peck needs offensive support, she often aids her own cause. Although she is batting .329 in 79 at-bats this season, she claims she is slumping. Last year, she batted .418 (33 for 79).

“Terrible,” she said of her 1990 batting performance. “I think this whole season I’ve been in a hitting slump.”

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Added Ludlow: “That’s not a bad hitting slump.”

First baseman Jenny Fleming (.413, 35 runs batted in) bats cleanup in a Conquistadore lineup that includes six players batting better than .300. Sophomore catcher Carrie Reulbach (.375, 24 RBIs) is second on the team in batting and RBIs.

Chatsworth pitcher Laura Roopenian has pitched respectably in two losses to El Camino Real. Roopenian (13-5) has not surrendered an earned run in two shutout losses to the Conquistadores, Shair said.

In 124 innings pitched, the senior right-hander has recorded 44 strikeouts and boasts a 1.24 ERA.

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The top four batters in the Chatsworth lineup--Daisy Sudparid, Mara Phillips, Rebecca Perry and Maggie Sherman--are batting a combined .396. However, the Chancellors, who placed second to El Camino Real in the league standings, have lost their top hitter.

Maria Torres injured her left knee in an opening-round win over Reseda and has been lost for the season. Torres, a sophomore, was batting .440 and led the Chancellors in doubles, triples and home runs.


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