At the start of the City softball playoffs, Canoga Park High's De Dow focused her energies on one goal--defeating West Valley League rival El Camino Real in the 4-A final.
Next week at South Gate Park, Dow gets her chance.
The senior right-hander increased her record to 16-3 on Wednesday in pitching Canoga Park to a 10-inning, 3-2 win over second-seeded Banning at South Gate Park in the semifinal round of the playoffs. The victory stopped a 20-game win streak for Banning, which concludes the season at 20-2.
Canoga Park (16-3) advances to next Wednesday's title game, meeting El Camino Real, a 5-0 winner over Sylmar on Wednesday.
Dow was overpowering for Canoga Park, striking out 14 and allowing only four hits. She also had remarkable control, throwing 92 strikes in 122 pitches, and allowed no walks.
She also played a part in Canoga Park's 10th-inning winning rally. Dow, who was 3 for 5, tripled to right field and scored on Stephanie Wukmir's single down the left-field line to make a loser of Banning pitcher Liz Zagala (15-2).
Canoga Park committed seven errors, including six in the last five innings. The Hunters' poor fielding, however, did not rattle Dow.
"I've been in so many of those situations," she said. "I try to do so much for the team. At one point, I thought the team had given up. I've gotten out of bad situations before. I told myself I had to do it again."
With two out and runners on second and third in the eighth, Dow struck out Rachael Hultz to snuff out a threat. An inning later, Banning's Tina Magana reached on an error by center fielder Pam Washington. Dow struck out Tracey Young and Grayson Pierson, but Hunter catcher Paula Allen dropped the third strike to Pierson.
Allen, who thought she had the ball in her mitt, tagged Pierson who was on her way to first. But the ball was at the backstop, allowing Pierson to reach first and Magana to move to third. Banning loaded the bases on a fielder's choice, but Canoga Park was saved by a double play when Washington snagged Debbie Martinez's fly ball and caught Magana off the bag at third. In all, Banning stranded eight runners.
Canoga Park led, 2-0, through five innings. In the third inning, Tammy Lester's squeeze bunt drove in Allen, who had walked and advanced to third on two passed balls. Allen walked to lead off the fifth inning and scored from first when Hultz misplayed Lester's single to left.
Banning tied the game in the sixth on run-scoring singles by Sheree Corniel and Hultz.
The Hunters face a big challenge against El Camino Real. The Conquistadores have won the City 4-A title the last three seasons and have beaten Canoga Park twice this season. Both defeats came in one-run games, and Nakasone is looking for vindication.
The game pits Dow against El Camino's Beth Silverman, who is 18-0.
"We want them," Canoga Park Coach Joey Nakasone said. "We've wanted them all year long. It's going to be a pitchers' duel. They have more depth, but as for pitchers, I'd have to go with De."