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DIVISION I SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS : Foothill Chases Off the Ghosts

The last time Foothill won a Southern Section softball championship, Stefanie Noffsinger was a Huntington Beach sophomore who shut out the Knights in the Woodbridge tournament.

That memory was with Foothill Coach Joe Gonzales as he watched Noffsinger face Foothill in its first-round Southern Section Division I game Friday.

“I hadn’t seen her in two years,” Gonzales said, “and I was scared to death.”

There was no need. Foothill (22-6) scored twice in the first inning and advanced to Tuesday’s second round against Kennedy with a 2-1 victory over one of the most dangerous pitchers in the playoffs.

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Noffsinger (8-4) gave up only one earned run in 70 innings for the Oilers (15-10), but Foothill scored two in the first inning and protected its 2-1 lead over the next six.

Michelle Churnock had an infield single and Carley Rutledge’s bunt went for a base hit, too, as Churnock took third. Rutledge stole second and Robin Tessman’s squeeze bunt drove in Churnock. An out later, Amie Barnes’ single to center drove in Rutledge.

“The killer was not getting (Rutledge on the sacrifice),” Oiler Coach Julie Anderson said. “The key factor was their speed. They’re not going to beat people up, but as long as they keep the ball in play--that’s all it takes. They got one clutch hit.”

The Knights also got two clutch defensive plays.

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Huntington Beach’s Sarah King tried to tie the score in the second on a two-out single to right field, but was thrown out on a Marisa Holmes-to-Tessman relay. Catcher Dawn Davidson made the block and the tag; it was Foothill’s first play at the plate this season.

Pinch-runner Sandy Smith was thrown out after rounding second base on Walker’s no-out sacrifice bunt in the third inning. It was the last time the Oilers would have someone at second. They had only one more runner in the game.

Marie Gieron (10-4) gave up only two hits--including a leadoff double to Jessica Walker, who scored on Jennifer Krill’s sacrifice fly.

Noffsinger surrendered five hits. Though she struck out 88 in 70 innings, she had only three against Foothill, which has no seniors.

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