El Camino Real High moved a step closer to claiming another City Section softball championship Tuesday with a 7-0 victory over Sylmar in a 4-A Division semifinal playoff game at South Gate Park.
El Camino Real (19-4), which was eliminated in the preliminary rounds the past two seasons, will face two-time defending 4-A champion San Pedro, a 2-0 winner over Chatsworth in the other semifinal, in the championship game Tuesday at UCLA.
The Conquistadores, winners of eight City softball titles before being eliminated in 1992 and '93, are poised to return to the winners' circle.
Senior right-hander Jennifer Gould, who pitched the Conquistadores to their last title in her freshman year, is at the top of her game. After watching Gould mow down his Spartans (11-9), Sylmar Coach Chuck Miller said: "Jennifer Gould deserves a City championship. She's the best I've seen in the City league."
Against Sylmar, Gould (19-4) gave up four hits and two walks while striking out 13. She ran into trouble only once--in the fourth inning when the Spartans loaded the bases on two singles and an error with none out. But, her defense came up with two forceouts at the plate before Gould escaped with a strikeout.
Gould had plenty of support. The Conquistadores pounded 10 hits, with Ramona Shelburne and Gretchen Vandenberg each collecting three hits while Gould had two. Shelburne and Gould hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth to give the Conquistadores a 4-0 lead and Vandenberg hit a two-run homer in the seventh.
Sylmar right-hander Cherise Espinosa (10-8), one of six starting sophomores, allowed six hits in six innings and struck out seven.