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San Pedro and Banning Battle for 4-A Softball Title : Preps: The Pilots will attempt to snap a five-game losing streak to the Pirates in a rematch of the 1992 championship game.


San Pedro High third baseman Amie Roberts won't underestimate the determination of the Banning softball team to avenge a five-game losing streak against the Pirates in the City Section 4-A Division championship this afternoon at UCLA.

But the senior is not too concerned either. The game is a rematch of last year's final won by San Pedro, 2-1, in 13 innings.

"They're really determined to get us this time, but we're confident we're going to succeed," Roberts said. "We're defending our title and the pressure is on them to win. We're a better team and I think the results kind of show that."

Pacific League champion San Pedro (25-3), which has not lost to a City team in two seasons, had 1-0 and 8-0 victories over the runner-up Pilots this season.

Top-seeded San Pedro, making its fourth appearance in the championship in six years, squeaked by Carson, 1-0, in the semifinals on May 26. Seventh-seeded Banning (15-5), seeking its first City title since 1979, beat Granada Hills, 6-1, in its semifinal.

"We're playing a lot better now than when we played San Pedro," Banning Coach Kathy Blankenship said. "We'll need to play solid defense and pitch them a little smarter, but there's not a whole lot about them you can hide. They know about us and we know about them."

Starting pitchers Petrina Martinez (13-1) of San Pedro and Ompa McKenna of Banning (15-4) are also well acquainted. They will meet for the fifth time.

Martinez, a junior who has a 0.38 earned-run average, pitched a four-hitter and struck out 10 in San Pedro's semifinal victory.

Martinez is one of three returning All-City selections for San Pedro, along with junior shortstop Victoria Brucker (.462) and senior center fielder Diane Marshall (.396).

Brucker, who in 1989 became the first girl on a U.S. team to play in the Little League World Series, drove in seven runs and had a grand slam in a 14-1 quarterfinal victory over San Fernando.

Lisa Hebert (.500) and Michelle Spanjoi (.375) are among a San Pedro lineup that has nine batters hitting above .300.

"People said we couldn't beat Banning three times last year, but did it and we're in position to do it again," San Pedro Coach Tony Dobra said. "There isn't the major leagues where you play a series. There is only one game and you have to be ready. Banning will be out there breathing fire."

Particularly McKenna.

She defeated San Pedro twice during her sophomore season in 1991 but is winless against the Pirates since. McKenna, a senior who has a 0.72 ERA, has pitched eight shutouts and 139 strikeouts in 137 innings.

Banning, which has won 14 of 16 games, has six players back from last year's team. McKenna (.324), first baseman Michelle Chavira (.311), catcher Jenny Vargas (.313) and shortstop Tami Roberts are three-year starters.

South Gate and Verdugo Hills will meet in the 3-A final at 2:45 p.m., followed by the 4-A final at 5.

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