Sylmar High softball Coach Jeff Tumin doesn't understand why there's a big fuss about El Camino Real pitcher Beth Silverman.
"She's not invincible like everyone writes about her," Tumin said after Silverman beat his team, 5-0, in Wednesday's City 4-A semifinal game at South Gate Park. "She's not a goddess of the softball diamond."
Maybe not. But the sophomore right-hander remained perfect on the mound.
Silverman (18-0) threw a five-hitter and kept El Camino in line for its fourth straight City 4-A title, advancing the Conquistadores into next Wednesday's championship game against Canoga Park. The victory also extended El Camino's state-record winning streak to 54 games. The loss ended Sylmar's season at 14-4.
"I just forgot about the streak and thought I had to do as well as I could," said Silverman, who has allowed just one earned run in 127 innings this season. "Once we scored a few runs, I felt a little less pressure."
El Camino Real appeared nervous on offense in the first two innings. But the team that outscored its first two playoff opponents, 46-1, got things going on a controversial play.
With no score in the top of the third, an illegal-pitch call against right-hander Deanna Monroy sparked El Camino. Tammy Ottino led off the inning by reaching first base on an error. While Monroy was pitching to Shelly Creal, she paused in her windup and then separated her hands. The home plate umpire called an illegal pitch, prompting an argument between Monroy and the umpire.
Monroy lost the argument and with it went her composure. Before the inning was through, El Camino Real had a 2-0 lead.
Ottino moved to second on the illegal-pitch call and was sacrificed to third by Creal. Darci Stehlik walked to put runners on first and third with one out. El Camino Real scored its first run on a double steal that left Stehlik on third. She scored the second run of the inning on Lisa Mahl's sacrifice fly.
"You never know what the key to a game is but that illegal-pitch call could have affected the game," El Camino Real Coach Neils Ludlow said. "They appeared to get a little rattled."
El Camino picked up a run in the fourth, and Silverman put the game on ice in the fifth with her hitting. With runners on second and third and one out, Silverman laced a single to center that scored Mahl and Stacy Trapp to make it 5-0.