Debbie De John admitted she was nervous when her Westminster teammates entered the top of the sixth inning trailing host Newbury Park by two.
"But after we got that first hit," De John said, "I knew we'd score."
Actually, it was an error that opened the sixth.
But it did not matter to De John and the Lions. The misplay helped Westminster score three in the inning Thursday and defeat the Panthers, 4-2, in the quarterfinals of the Southern Section 4-A softball playoffs.
De John went the distance for Westminster, allowing just two hits and striking out three. The junior, who improved to 21-9, also delivered the game-tying single in the decisive sixth inning.
Newbury Park's Debbie Dickmann carried a 2-0 lead into the sixth, having given up just two hits.
But she immediately got into trouble when Kim Wolf hit a ground ball to short, and first baseman Delores Decker dropped the throw.
Sandy Martinez followed with a bunt back to Dickmann, who tried to get the out at second base. Her throw was late, and the Lions had two runners on.
After a sacrifice bunt by Amy Loomer, Heather Illsley hit a grounder to the right of second baseman Robin Blair, who made the stop but had no play. Wolf scored and Martinez moved to third.
De John then hit a chopper over third base to score Martinez and make it 2-2. Sherlyn Secrist, who had pinch-run for Illsley and stolen second, took third.
But Secrist was soon home, as Jackie Mendez hit a ground out deep enough to short to make it 3-2 Westminster.
The Lions got a final run in the seventh inning on an error by Blair. Dickmann, who beat Westminster, 1-0, with a perfect game, suffered the loss.
"I felt real confident going into the sixth inning with a 2-0 lead," Newbury Park Coach Richard Intelkofer said. "I figured with our defense being really strong, we were in good shape."
But once the Panthers fell behind, Intelkofer knew they were in trouble because of the excellent defensive play of Westminster.
Along with collecting the game-winning run batted in, Mendez was the defensive star of the game. As shortstop, she was responsible for taking away at least four hits with some outstanding plays.
Ironically, it was a Mendez error in the fifth inning that led to both of Newbury Park's runs.
Dickmann walked with one out, and Stacy Fry was sent in to pinch-run for her. With Tricia McCarthy batting, Fry advanced to second on a passed ball. Mendez, attempting to field the throw from catcher Kim Wolf, let the ball go into center field, and Fry took third.
McCarthy walked, then stole second. A single by Frydenberg scored Fry, and McCarthy came home when right fielder Candy Roman bobbled the ball.
But the lead didn't even last an inning.
"Once we had the lead, I knew we would keep it," said Westminster Coach Dick Martin, whose team improved to 22-9.
The Panthers (22-7) couldn't generate any offense after the fifth inning.