How about this for outfoxing Newbury Park.
Facing the Marmonte League's most highly touted team with the hottest pitcher in the area, Kristi Fox, Camarillo Coach Darwin Tolzin unleashed freshman pitcher Cindy Ball Tuesday at Borchard Park.
Newbury Park (5-2, 2-1) had Fox, The Times' female Athlete of the Week after throwing two no-hitters and a one-hitter last week, but it was the Scorpions who had a Ball.
Ball, who entered the game with no decisions in 13 innings this season, pitched a no-hitter and Camarillo (6-1, 3-0), ranked 10th by The Times, upset the No. 3 Panthers, 1-0.
"She's got a future," Tolzin said of Ball, who is 15 and stands 5-foot-10 1/2.
The right-hander had 10 strikeouts and was ahead in the count to 18 of 22 batters. A third-inning walk to Melissa Brecht was all that separated Ball from a perfect game. Brecht advanced to third base on a wild pitch and a stolen base, but was stranded when Ball struck out Christine Arguijo to end the inning.
One question, though. With ace Melanie Richardson (4-1, 1.66 earned-run average) ready to go, why would Tolzin call upon an unproven freshman in a game of this magnitude?
"Because I knew these guys were prepared for Mel," Tolzin said. "I knew I was opening myself up for criticism, big time."
Ball and No. 4 hitter Kortney Edge bailed him out.
Edge, a sophomore who had eight runs batted in in 21 at bats, delivered a two-out, bases-loaded single through the left side of the infield after Fox (4-1) jumped ahead, 0 and 2, in the count.
After each pitch, Edge stepped out of the batter's box, smiled and nodded to Tolzin, who was coaching at third base. She looked nervous at first, but appeared more confident after taking ball one, then fouling off two.
Edge finally jumped on a pitch that was low and inside.
"I was taking a lot of deep breaths, trying to concentrate, " Edge said. "I had to get a hit or hit it somewhere hard."
That's all the offense Ball needed. She threw 82 pitches, 80% of them strikes.
In 13 innings leading up to Tuesday, Ball had bouts with wildness. She had 13 strikeouts, a 1.62 ERA and four walks--all in one inning.
"I was just trying to pitch batter-by-batter," Ball said. "I just wanted to win."
But Ball said the thought of a no-hitter crossed her mind before the game.
"Just for a second," she said, laughing. "Fantasizing."
The fantasy materialized, thanks in part to four good defensive plays.
Center fielder Jefflyn Spahr flagged down a line drive by Amy Berman in the second inning. Right-fielder Robin Degner hauled in a threatening fly ball by Brecht to open the sixth and third baseman Gina Hammett caught a pop fly while slamming into the fence to end the game.
But the most brilliant out was the first. Second baseman Tommee Payan dived head-first to catch a line drive by Arguijo destined for center field.
Fox, complaining of a sore wrist on her throwing hand, threw 100 pitches. She finished with a two-hitter (Ball hit a single) and had eight strikeouts, four walks, two wild pitches and hit a batter. Two of the walks, plus the hit batsman, loaded the bases for Edge.