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Conquistador Conquest

City 4-A: El Camino Real again defeats Kennedy for championship, this time by a 2-1 margin in nine innings.


With a hint of daylight dancing on the horizon, El Camino Real High waltzed in for a 2-1 victory over Kennedy in the City Section 4-A Division softball championship game Tuesday before 800 at UCLA.

The Conquistadores scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning courtesy of Kennedy's sixth error of the game.

El Camino Real Coach Neils Ludlow picked up his ninth City title in 13 seasons. And this one came just in the nick of time.

At 7:40 p.m. and the score tied, 1-1, after eight innings, umpires, coaches and City officials agreed that one more inning would be played. If still tied after nine innings, the game would be suspended because of darkness and continued Thursday.

A few ticks before 8, the Conquistadores (19-3) forced the sun to set on Kennedy for the second consecutive year, upending the top-ranked Golden Cougars (21-5) for successive City titles.

"We won ugly--I guess we're like the [Chicago] Bulls," said El Camino Real catcher Ramona Shelburne, the team's only senior and a four-year starter.

El Camino Real sophomore right-hander Ashley Redlin (11-3) scattered three hits, struck out 11, walked three and hit two. Redlin pitched out of jams in the fourth and seventh, each time retiring the side on a strikeout with a runner at third.

Kennedy ace Sandra Durazo (21-5), headed to San Diego State on scholarship, allowed only five hits, struck out five and walked two. Durazo, who beat El Camino Real, 1-0, with a two-hit, 11-strikeout performance in eight innings on April 1, was hurt by her team's inability to make routine plays.

Tied, 1-1, with one out in the bottom of the ninth, Vanessa Laguire's slow chopper bounced past third baseman Louann Avila and shortstop Monique Acedo into left field. Because neither fielder touched the ground ball, Laguire was credited with a single.

After Laguire went to second on a passed ball, Avila fielded Jessica Riddle's bunt and threw to second baseman Cynthia Barraza, who was covering first. But the throw glanced off Barraza's glove and Laguire rounded third and scored.

"I saw what was going on [at first base] and I just went [home]," said Laguire, who had two of the Conquistadores' five hits.

Said Kennedy Coach Eric Moorman: "Two years in a row . . . we were all pumped and ready. I guess it's my fault. I didn't get the team prepared enough."

Errors led to both El Camino Real runs.

In the second, Durazo struck out Redlin to lead off the inning but the third strike got away from catcher Carin Garcia and allowed Redlin to reach base.

Two outs later, Laguire struck out for what should have been the third out but the third strike again bounced off Garcia's glove and allowed Laguire to reach base.

Riddle followed with a line drive up the middle--inches from Acedo's outstretched glove--and Redlin scored. Laguire tried to score from second on the play, but was thrown out at the plate by center fielder Monica Espita.

"You can't give a good team five outs in one inning," Moorman said.

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