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SUNSET LEAGUE SOFTBALL ROUNDUP : Crouch Turns Anxiety Into a Marina Victory

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Marcy Crouch’s last performance against Fountain Valley was embarrassing. She was knocked around for nine hits in five innings--"and they were shots,” her coach recalled--as Marina suffered its only loss to an Orange County team.

Crouch admitted she was nervous before Friday’s rematch against the Barons, but she directed all that anxiety into intensity and pitched a masterful game as second-ranked Marina scored a 2-0 Sunset League victory and pushed Fountain Valley a little deeper into the standings.

“This puts us in a really good position to win the league title,” said Crouch (12-2), who lowered her earned-run average to 0.43. “That’s the most important thing to me. I’m not into revenge or anything.”

You couldn’t tell by the way she set down the Barons. She surrendered two hits--one in the first, one in the sixth--and faced only one batter over the minimum through the first six innings before the Viking defense committed two errors in the seventh. She struck out seven.

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“Marcy has to be challenged, and when she feels that challenge, she’s dangerous,” Marina Coach Shelly Luth said, calling Fountain Valley’s lineup the league’s most dangerous. “She really, really wanted to win today. . . . They beat us pretty good last time and all the girls wanted to show we’re better than what we showed the first time.”

In their first meeting, the Fountain Valley game was the Vikings’ fifth in three days, and Marina’s fatigue showed as Fountain Valley scored a 7-1 victory. Friday’s game was the first the Vikings had played in a week.

Marina (16-2, 8-1) remained in first place in the league race. Fountain Valley (10-8-1, 6-3) is locked in a battle with Huntington Beach (14-6, 8-2) and Ocean View (13-5, 6-3) for three playoff berths.

Deborah Harrelson (8-6) limited Marina to only three hits, but a defensive meltdown in the second inning prevented a scoreless duel.

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Lynette Velazquez’s soft liner over third base went for a double and Heather Hibben’s pop-up behind first baseman Laurie Gillis fell off her glove for a hit. A line drive at the third baseman was dropped, loading the bases, and a bouncer in the hole went off the third baseman Brooke Blower’s glove for an error, allowing two runs to score.

“They hit one ball hard and it was caught in center field,” Fountain Valley Coach Cary Baker said. “When we hit the ball hard, (Marina) made the plays.”

In another league game:

Huntington Beach 3, Rosary 1--Stefanie Noffsinger struck out nine and had a two-run single in the fifth inning for visiting Huntington Beach (7-2 in league).

Rosary pitcher Julie Luna (5-6), who pitched the entire game, struck out seven allowed only three hits.

Huntington Beach improves to 14-6, 7-2.


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