The game over, the championship in hand, Corona Santiago's Angie Melendrez had only one thing to fear: her teammates.
Melendrez, never threatened by Rosary's offense in the Southern Section Division IV title game, tried to avoid the dog pile that was to engulf her.
Such is the fate of a pitcher who throws a two-hitter and gets the last out of the game on a one-hopper back to the circle.
Melendrez, the only senior on a team playing its second varsity season, led fourth-seeded Santiago past Rosary, 2-0, at Mayfair Park in Lakewood on Friday.
She got help from her catcher, junior Jessica Bashor, whose moonshot over the left field fence, her fifth homer of the year, gave Santiago a one-run lead in the first inning.
From there, it was a matter of Melendrez (26-3) feasting off the outside corner with her left-handed curveball and having her defense make the plays behind her.
She struck out three and walked one as Santiago (29-3) won the school's first section title. Rosary, which last won a softball title in 1984, finished 26-7.
"I'm surprised we didn't score runs," Rosary Coach Tom Tice said. "I'm surprised we only had two hits and didn't come close to scoring a run. I'm surprised we weren't at our best defensively, and one bad pitch basically ended the game.
"In all three facets of our game, we didn't play like champions. Even if you say the home run was a lucky shot, that's one more lucky shot than we had."
There wasn't anything about Bashor's homer on a 1-0 screwball that appeared lucky. She said she didn't watch it sail well beyond the fence, but she knew it was gone by the sound of the crowd.
The 1-0 lead settled Melendrez, who said she battled nerves.
Though Santiago had runners in every inning but the second, the homer was really the only mistake made by senior pitcher Christy Ledford (15-6). The run Santiago's Lindsey Bashor scored in the fourth inning on Shannon Acevedo's single occurred only because of a two-base error in center field.
There was still no need to worry, Tice said of the 2-0 deficit.
"We expect to score," he said. "Even through the bottom of the sixth, you can get a run in the sixth and a run in the seventh. With two out in the seventh, then you start worrying because you need two runs."
Ledford surrendered six hits, struck out five and walked one. She said the shrunken strike zone in the first inning--which both pitchers and catchers said expanded as the game went on--forced her to make a pitch to Bashor that she didn't want to make.
"It was really a tight strike zone," said Ledford, who just missed on close pitches outside. "I don't usually throw screwballs in the first inning because . . . that's what happens."