It was bound to happen someday. The players knew it. Their coach knew it. Sooner or later, El Camino Real High School's softball team, the proud powerhouse with a 73-game winning streak, was going to lose a game.
"But I never thought it would come in this game," El Camino Real High Coach Neils Ludlow said.
The Conquistadores, going for their fifth straight City 4-A softball championship Wednesday, were slapped around the diamond at Cal State Northridge and dethroned by Sylmar, 13-4.
"All along I thought we were the better team," Sylmar Coach Jeff Tumin said. "I knew we were going to beat them."
The Spartans manhandled Conquistadore pitcher Jodi Iwafuchi for 16 hits, including 8 in Sylmar's 7-run sixth inning. The Spartans were aided by the collapse of El Camino Real's defense, which committed seven errors, resulting in seven unearned runs.
"I think they scored more runs than all the teams we played this season put together," Ludlow said. "Give them credit. They played well."
Supported by a bleacher full of boisterous fans, who punctuated the Spartans' attack to the very end by chanting "73 . . . and one ," the Spartans were undaunted by the El Camino Real legacy.
Sylmar (15-4), City 4-A champions for the first time since 1973, capitalized on four El Camino Real errors to take a 3-0 first-inning lead. Second baseman Stacy Trapp misplayed Christy Robbins' ground ball, allowing Teri Klement to score from second.
Catcher Jenny Fleming then tried to pick off Robbins at first and the ball went into right field, allowing Chris Parks to score from second. Right fielder Michelle King and third baseman Lisa Huffaker also committed errors in the inning.
The Conquistadores (18-1) answered with four runs in the second to take the lead. Iwafuchi squeezed home Tammy Ottino, and designated-hitter Andrea Rochetti doubled to score Iwafuchi. Stehlik drove in Ottino with a single and later scored on a wild pitch.
Sylmar regained the lead for Sylmar with an RBI single in the fifth inning, and the Spartans' bats launched an epidemic of hits in the sixth. Linda Peters led off with a single, and Cindy Campbell followed with a triple.
Peters, however, was called out for failing to touch third base. Before Iwafuchi (14-1) could get another batter out, five runs had scored. Michelle Blaha doubled home one run, and Maureen Monroy added an RBI single as 12 Spartans came to the plate.
Sylmar pitcher Deanna Monroy (13-3) held the Conquistadores to six hits and had one strikeout in going the distance. The Spartans supported Monroy with errorless defense.
South Gate pounded out 11 hits en route to a 2-0 win over Bell in the City 3-A softball final at South Gate Park.