Griffin, No. 1 Simi Valley Escape With a 1-0 Victory Over Rio Mesa : High school softball: Pitcher keys seventh-inning rally with a bunt single after getting out of bases-loaded jam.


If Simi Valley High softball Coach Suzanne Manlet said it once Tuesday, she said it a million times:

Hit the ball on the ground.

After six innings of hitting popups and long fly balls for outs, the Pioneers finally responded in the bottom of the seventh with four ground-ball singles to score the winning run in a 1-0 victory over Rio Mesa in a second-round game of the Southern Section Division I softball playoffs at Rancho Santa Susana Park.


Top-seeded Simi Valley (23-1-1), which had a bye during the first round last week, popped up or flied out for 11 of its first 16 outs. The Pioneers, who had one runner in scoring position during the first six innings, got a wake-up call in the top of seventh when Rio Mesa (15-12) loaded the bases on two hits and a fielder’s choice with none out.

The situation prompted an appearance by Manlet, who stepped on the field to talk to the Pioneers.

“I have a lot of confidence in our defense,” Manlet said. “I just told them, ‘You guys can do it. Just settle down and play your game. You guys have come too far to have them take it away from you.’ ”

While an upset appeared imminent, Simi Valley ace Sara Griffin would not succumb to the pressure.

Griffin (18-1), who tossed a three-hitter, recorded the first out of the inning with her 10th strikeout. Debbie Douglas’ suicide squeeze attempt failed when Griffin fielded the bunt and ran across the plate for the second out. Then Griffin, a junior right-hander, enticed Liz Simon to pop up to shortstop Tracy Hansen, ending the inning.

After that threatening inning, Griffin did not want to leave any more to chance. As she headed to the dugout, she told her teammates firmly, “We better score, now.”


To Griffin’s surprise, she was the leadoff batter in the seventh. And she wasted little time getting the Pioneers started. Griffin, normally a right-handed batter, stepped into the left-handed batter’s box. On a 1-and-1 pitch, Griffin laid down a bunt and beat the throw from third baseman Kandie Apodaca.

After Hansen’s sacrifice bunt moved Griffin to second, Dayna Skinner hit a ground ball into the hole on the left side for a base hit.

Griffin and Skinner moved up a base on a double steal on the first pitch to Kris Lufkin, who followed with an infield single.

With the bases loaded, Lisa Church ripped a hard ground ball past shortstop to drive in Griffin with the winning run.