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Simi Valley Stays on Solid Ground

Division I: Pioneers squeeze by Crescenta Valley, 2-1, in first-round game influenced by an unusually hard infield.


SIMI VALLEY — A hard softball on a cement-like infield made for a handful of 12- to 15-feet-high choppers Friday, three of which never reached the outfield but drove in all of the runs in Simi Valley High's 2-1 victory over Crescenta Valley in a Southern Section Division I first-round playoff game at Rancho Santa Susana Park.

"This is the hardest infield I've ever seen," Crescenta Valley Coach Alan Eberhart said. "There is no soft [dirt] on top."

Half-hit balls were bouncing over fielders' heads, but Simi Valley benefited most from the virtually unplayable ground balls.

Simi Valley (21-7), which will face Marmonte League rival Thousand Oaks for the fourth time this season in the second round Tuesday, played outstanding defensively.

Crescenta Valley tied the score, 1-1, in the fifth inning when pinch-runner Corrie Atwood scored with two out on a chopper by Becca Baldridge (two for four), who beat the throw from third baseman Tiffany Franklin.

The Pioneers responded by scoring what proved to be the winning run in their half of the fifth.

Pinch-hitter Karen LeBlanc reached base when her hard-hit grounder bounced off the chest of third baseman Hope Robertshaw, a solid fielder who seemingly misjudged the bounce off the dirt.

"Hope has had a handful errors in four years," Eberhart said. "And those were throwing errors."

LeBlanc advanced to second on Cindy Gray's sacrifice , went to third on a ground out by Lori Tande and scored on Dawn Carifi's infield chopper.

Pitcher Melinda Moulden (17-7) leaped and got her glove on Carifi's hit, but the ball bounced out toward shortstop Baldridge, whose throw to first was late.

Crescenta Valley (20-7), which lost three of its past four games, threatened in the sixth and seventh, but couldn't score.

With runners at second and third and two out in the sixth, Tande backhanded a grounder near the third-base line and threw out Laura Scott at first.

In the seventh, Simi Valley shortstop Tracie Hall made an over-the-shoulder basket catch on a blooper just off the infield dirt by Wendy Bingham.

After Danielle Proctor popped up a bunt for the second out, Baldridge and Leslie Linnemeyer followed with consecutive singles to left field. But Robertshaw grounded out to third baseman Franklin to end the game.

The Pioneers took a 1-0 lead in the second. Brittney Green singled to right field, went to second on a flyout, stole third and scored on Alex Ingraham's infield chopper.

Moulden, a sophomore right-hander, allowed four hits, struck out six and walked one. Tande (10-5) allowed five hits.

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