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SOUTHERN SECTION BASEBALL PLAYOFFS : Simi Valley Pitcher Sends Ocean View Packing


HUNTINGTON BEACH — If softball is a game of inches, Tuesday's Division I semifinal between Simi Valley and Ocean View came down to a fraction of an inch.

That was the distance separating a bases-loaded dribbler by Dayna Skinner from going foul down the third-base line. That hit broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning and helped Simi Valley win, 2-0, at Golden West College.

With pitcher Sara Griffin (20-1) in control, the Pioneers (25-1-1) advanced to the championship final against Los Alamitos at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Mayfair Park in Lakewood.

Griffin beat Ocean View's Kathy Ponce (16-3) for the Pioneers' third straight playoff shutout. Griffin struck out eight, walked one and retired the last 19 batters to complete the one-hitter.

"Griffin was on as much as she has been all season," Simi Valley Coach Suzanne Manlet said. "Even after the long bus ride, we were really pumped up for this one. We really wanted it. We beat an excellent team in Ocean View."

After quelling a Simi Valley scoring threat in the fifth inning with a pickoff at third base, Ocean View (22-7) and Ponce finally got into a jam they couldn't get out of in the sixth.

Consecutive one-out singles by Jenny Conmay, Griffin and Tracy Hansen loaded the bases. Ponce got Jennifer Roache to ground to second for a force at the plate. But Ponce and Seahawk third baseman Jennifer Hatcher had no play on Skinner's spinning chopper 18 feet down the third-base line.

They could only watch the ball spin toward the line and stop a fraction of an inch from foul territory as Griffin scored the go-ahead run.

"It was the only thing they could do," Seahawk Coach Doug Myers said. "Usually a ball with that kind of backspin is gonna go foul nine times out of 10."

Simi Valley added a run in the seventh. The plate umpire ruled that Ponce hit Griffin with a wild pitch in the dirt that allowed pinch-runner Jasmine Budhu to score from third.

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