The roller-coaster ride that has been the Camarillo High softball team's season came to an end Tuesday.
Mater Dei scored on a close play at the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning to claim a 2-1 victory over the Scorpions in a Southern Section Division I semifinal in front of about 350 at Foothill High.
"That's the only bad thing about this game--somebody has to lose," Camarillo Coach Miki Mangan said.
Mater Dei (29-3), the nation's top-ranked team by USA Today, scored the game-winning run when Michigan-bound Kelsey Kollen delivered a single and Prescilla Trejo's throw home from center field got away from catcher Jenn Byrne.
Courtney Ryan, who led off the inning with a line drive to center and advanced to second on a passed ball, missed the plate on her initial slide. But in a collision between Ryan and Byrne, Ryan knocked the ball from Byrne's glove.
"I thought she was out until I realized that I didn't have the ball," said Byrne.
Camarillo (21-6), Marmonte League champions and top-ranked in the region by The Times, gave the Monarchs all they could handle.
Facing junior right-hander Marissa Young (13-2), the same pitcher who beat Camarillo in the 1996 Division I final, the Scorpions had a runner on base in every inning but the fourth and fifth, but had trouble advancing them.
"We played such a good game today. We scared the hell out of them," said Camarillo sophomore Kathryn Nevard (9-5), who allowed seven hits and struck out four.
"[They're] the No. 1 team in the nation and I feel like we showed what Camarillo softball is all about."
Mater Dei scored its first run in the second. Jamie Bagnall ripped a two-out triple down the left-field line. Ryan followed with a sharp grounder, which first baseman Jill Borchard couldn't handle and Bagnall scored.
The Scorpions responded with consecutive singles by sisters Alana and Jessica Mendoza to start the third, but they never advanced beyond second. None of the three subsequent batters tried to bunt and the Mendozas were stranded by two infield pop-ups and a strikeout.
"They're really quick [defensively]," Mangan said. "I felt at the time we'd have a better chance at knocking it through."
The Scorpions finally knocked it through in the sixth. With runners at first and second and two out, Shannon Zigner hit her second single down the left-field line to drive in pinch-runner Lindsay Calderon. Ali Taverner, however, was thrown out at third by left-fielder Courtney Betley to end the inning.
"I was a little worried when they got that run and momentum shifted to them," Mater Dei Coach Doug Myers said.
Camarillo threatened again in the seventh with the Mendoza connection. With two out, Alana bunted and reached on a throwing error by third baseman Bagnall. After Alana stole second, Jessica was hancuffed on a 2-2 pitch and struck out.
"She jammed me," Jessica Mendoza said. "She was pitching away and low the whole time . . . then she came inside."
Mater Dei ended it minutes later.
* MORE HEROICS
Quartz Hill High pushed across two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat Jurupa Valley, 3-2. C10