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Cypress Wins With Defense


HUNTINGTON BEACH — Cypress didn't muscle its way into the championship game of the state softball tournament Saturday at Golden West.

Although Cypress boasts a high-powered offense that helped it win 65 games this season, Saturday the Chargers used two unearned runs, the four-hit pitching of Jamie Wilkes and some steady defense to defeat Palomar, 2-0, in the winners bracket final and advance to the championship game.

Cypress (65-4) will play either Sacramento (62-7) or Palomar (44-14), which play at 10 a.m., in the final at noon today. If Cypress loses, the teams will play a second game to determine the champion.

The last time the state tournament was at Golden West in 1991, Cypress won.

"We're right where we want to be," Cypress Coach Brad Pickler said. "That's been our plan all season. Have Jamie throw strikes and let the defense make the plays."

Wilkes (38-3) walked one and struck out two and the Chargers didn't make an error. In fact, her defense saved her several times.

Shortstop Aimee Westhers, catcher Kelly Humphries and second baseman Autumn Gwinner played solidly up the middle. But center fielder Sandra Mulder delivered the two biggest defensive plays.

With the tying run on second in the third inning, Palomar's Julie Martin sent a drive to deep center, but Mulder chased it down for the final out.

When Cypress was clinging to a one-run lead in the fifth, with no outs and a runner on first, Mulder made another outstanding running catch on Dawn Lenard's drive to the right-center field gap.

Mulder also scored Cypress' first run.

Mulder walked to lead off the third inning, moved to second on a wild pitch, then moved to third on Rachelle Vandiver's sacrifice.

Then Palomar Coach Mark Eldridge decided to intentionally walk Cypress' Nos. 2 and 3 hitters, Gwinner and Michelle Bailon.

"That surprised me," Pickler said.

Palomar's Robyn Jensen (15-9) nearly escaped the jam, getting Weathers to pop out to shortstop Katie Ziegler for the second out. But then, her 1-0 pitch to Jill Tantardini sailed high and off the glove of catcher Fale Tracy and Mulder scored from third.

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