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Simi Valley Has Seen Enough of Thousand Oaks

Division I: In fourth meeting between teams, Lancers oust Pioneers, 5-1, to reach quarterfinals.


SIMI VALLEY — There were no bitter words by the Simi Valley High softball team Tuesday, only high praise and well wishes for an all-too-familiar opponent.

Second-seeded Thousand Oaks routed Simi Valley, 5-1, in the second round of the Southern Section Division I playoffs at Rancho Santa Susana Community Park--the fourth game this season between the Marmonte League teams.

Neither team wanted to meet this early in the playoffs, but section officials threw all seven local Division I teams in the eight-team Region II bracket.

"I wish it wasn't this way," said Thousand Oaks first baseman Erika Hanson, who had two hits and triggered her team's four-run outburst in the top of the first inning.

"I didn't like the pairings," Simi Valley Coach Suzanne Manlet said. "Sometimes it's nice to play a team you don't know."

Thousand Oaks (25-3) beat Simi Valley for the third time and easily advanced to Thursday's quarterfinal against Marmonte rival Camarillo, thanks in part to two errors by the Pioneers (21-8) that allowed three unearned runs in first inning.

It started when Simi Valley first baseman Dawn Carifi, reaching across her body, dropped a throw from shortstop Tracie Hall after Hanson's ground ball.

Justine Rachlin sacrificed Hanson to second base. Jennifer Richards followed with a single to center field, and it appeared Hanson would be thrown out at home. But catcher Dianna Michael couldn't handle center fielder Jamie Sturdivant's throw, allowing Hanson to score.

Kristin Combe followed with a bloop single and Colleen Spencer walked to load the bases with one out. Jennifer Sharron grounded Lori Tande's 0-2 pitch up the middle for a run-scoring single to make it 2-0.

With the bases still loaded, Lacey Cope hit a grounder toward second. Hall fielded it and stepped on second for a force out while Combe came home with the third run. Hall was upended by Sharron on the play, allowing Spencer to score from second and make it 4-0.

Thousand Oaks, which added a run in the fifth, was on its way to a 10th consecutive victory.

"That's exactly how we wanted to start the game," said Richards, who had two hits.

"We talked about it and we just did it. We were pumped. I think we can go all the way if we keep playing like this."

Sharron (21-3), a left-hander headed for Notre Dame on scholarship, scattered four hits, struck out nine and walked two.

Tande (10-6) allowed seven hits and two earned runs, with three walks and no strikeouts.

"After that first girl got on, everything started to fall apart," Tande said. "That got us down. You just wanted the inning to be over."

Tande, the Pioneer leadoff batter, had two singles. She laid down a perfect drag bunt in the bottom of the first and later scored on Brittney Green's single to make it 4-1.

"I was frustrated [with the pairings], but it was nice losing to Thousand Oaks," Tande said.

"Seriously, I'd rather see them in the finals than another team."

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