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Griffin Oh-So Close as No-Hitter Escapes : High school softball: Simi Valley junior (12-0) gives up bloop single on two-out, two-strike pitch in seventh.


If it had been a game-winning hit, Simi Valley High pitcher Sara Griffin might not have smiled so easily.

Griffin knew the only thing she lost by giving up a seventh-inning, two-out single on an 0-and-2 pitch was . . . a no-hitter.

"I think I'm kind of used to it," said Griffin of the failed bid. "A W is a W. That's all we're concerned about."

Behind Griffin's dominating 15-strikeout performance, Simi Valley coasted to an easy 4-0 victory over host Thousand Oaks on Wednesday in a Marmonte League softball game. The Pioneers (15-0, 5-0 in league play) jumped on Thousand Oaks (8-5, 2-3) before the Lancers had a chance to swing at one of Griffin's jumping rise balls.

Thousand Oaks was doomed soon after Carrie Russell (6-5) threw her first pitch. Jessica Cunningham led off with a single, and was moved to second on Jenny Conmay's sacrifice. Griffin and Tracy Hansen followed with home runs on consecutive pitches and Simi Valley owned a 3-0 lead six pitches into the game.

Thousand Oaks' poor play was not relegated to its pitching. The Lancers committed four errors and had just two baserunners. By the sixth inning, Thousand Oaks Coach Chuck Brown had made five changes in the lineup.

"And we really thought we were ready to play this game," Brown said. "We really did."

About the only consolation for the Lancers, hard-pressed to make the playoffs, was Nicole Ochoa's bloop single that spoiled Griffin's no-hit bid.

Ochoa, who signed a letter of intent to play softball at Cal State Long Beach next season, was benched for the first two innings because she missed practice on Tuesday to keep a doctor's appointment.

Ochoa struck out in her first at-bat in the fourth inning on a rise ball. Facing an 0-and-2 count in the seventh, Ochoa seemed set up by Griffin again. But Griffin threw her a changeup at the shins and Ochoa connected on a golf swing, lifting a flare into left field .

Had it been any other batter, it probably would have been a fly out. But with the powerful Ochoa up to bat, the outfielders were camping nearly in the next county.

"That was my mistake," Griffin said. "I should have thrown her a rise. I knew better. She's a good hitter."

But Griffin (12-0), a junior right-hander, hasn't made many mistakes this season. She has not given up an earned run in 84 innings. Although she is still looking for a perfect game, she has thrown two no-hitters and three one-hitters. Four hits is the most any team has against her this season and no batter has tagged her for an extra-base hit.

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