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Freshman Cervenka Is Right On Target

TIMES STAFF WRITER

With the precision of a diamond cutter, freshman ace Meredith Cervenka of Crescenta Valley High sliced through the Palmdale lineup by hitting her spots with pinpoint accuracy.

“She had all the pitches working for her,” said Ray Beltrami, Palmdale’s assistant coach. “We tried choking up, moving up in the box. . . . everything.”

Cervenka struck out 13--six on called third strikes--and extended her scoreless innings streak to 71 in Crescenta Valley’s 7-0 victory over Palmdale in a Southern Section Division I first-round softball playoff game Friday in front of 250 at Montrose Park.

It was a much different showing from the all-Falcon matchup last month when Crescenta Valley made some costly errors behind pitcher Melinda Moulden and lost to Palmdale, 2-0, in the High Desert tournament.

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This time, Cervenka was the key.

Palmdale (18-8), which finished third in the Golden League, managed three hits off Cervenka, two of which never left the infield.

“For a freshman, she’s got a great career ahead of her,” said Beltrami, filling in for Coach Gene Speidel, who was in Fresno attending his son’s college graduation.

Cervenka (18-0), who struck out eight consecutive batters after surrendering a line-drive single to Kristi DiMarco to lead off the game, will get a chance to try her stuff against one of the region’s best hitting teams in the second round.

The Falcons will face Palmdale’s league rival Highland, a team hitting .369, on Tuesday.

“We’re pumped up,” said Cervenka, who also had two hits and drove in a run.

Offensively, Crescenta Valley combined a healthy dose of “small ball” with 10 singles off Mikki Goldwater (16-6) to give Cervenka plenty of support.

Crescenta Valley (24-5), ranked No. 6 in the region by The Times, parlayed two hits with three sacrifice bunts and an error to score three times in the second.

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With a 2-0 lead and one out, Danielle Proctor’s squeeze--Crescenta Valley’s fourth of seven bunts--scored pinch-runner Laura Schmalen for a 3-0 lead.

As Crescenta Valley batters continued to show bunt early and often, Palmdale infielders continued to sit back on defense.

“It [was] there. They played back so we tried to take what they gave us,” Crescenta Valley Coach Dan Berry said.

Said Beltrami: “They were playing the

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small game and we were just too slow.”

Five hits and error led to three more runs in the fifth and a 7-0 Crescenta Valley lead.

Heidi Huchthausen, who had two hits, singled down the left-field foul line for the only RBI of the inning.

With Cervenka mixing screwballs and riseballs with deceptive changeups, Palmdale batters were continually baffled.

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DiMarco, who had two hits, got Palmdale started right with a single to left, but she was caught trying to steal her 37th base four pitches later by Huchthausen.

“Once we got the momentum, it took Palmdale out of their game because they’re better than that,” Berry said.


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