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Mendoza Lets It Slide for Camarillo

Softball: Shortstop's aggressive running lifts Scorpions over Simi Valley, 1-0.


CAMARILLO — Eight games into the season, Camarillo High has proven it is the toughest softball team in the region to beat and score against.

The reasons are obvious: The Scorpions have perhaps the finest pitching in the area, a top-notch defense and, well, Jessica Mendoza.

On Thursday, Camarillo tapped into all three of its strengths to edge Simi Valley, 1-0, in a Marmonte League game between two of the state's top 10 teams.

Camarillo (8-0, 5-0 in league play), ranked No. 5 in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and No. 1 in the region by The Times, scored the game's lone run in the sixth, courtesy of a great slide by Mendoza.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Jill Borchard lined Camarillo's third hit into right field. Mendoza followed with a sharp grounder to third baseman Jill Clarkson, whose throw to second was too late to get pinch-runner Nicki Holt.

After both runners advanced on a passed ball on the first pitch to Cindy Ball, Simi Valley opted to intentionally walk Ball, who is batting .688.

Allie Taverner followed with a grounder to Clarkson, who forced Holt at the plate for the second out. Catcher Jennie Shields threw to first base but Dawn Carifi dropped the ball.

Mendoza barely hesitated while rounding third.

"I was just gonna round it, but I looked up and saw [Carifi] drop it," Mendoza said.

Mendoza, who is headed to Stanford on a scholarship, bolted for home.

"I looked right into the catcher's eyes after I saw Dawn pick up the ball and I thought, 'Uh-uh, it's gonna be a close one,' " Mendoza said.

Mendoza slid around Shields, touching the plate with her left hand.

"She's a very aggressive baserunner," Coach Miki Mangan said.

Mendoza's heroics aside, it was the Scorpions' superior pitching that put Camarillo in position to knock off Simi Valley (8-2, 3-2), ranked No. 10 in the state and No. 2 in the region.

Sophomore right-hander Kathrine Nevard (4-0) pitched a one-hitter--a triple by Brittney Green--struck out seven and walked one.

With help from a perfect defense, Nevard allowed only two runners and retired 15 in a row from the third through seventh innings.

"I've seen her throw better, but she was good today," Mangan said. "She let a couple changeups hang and she let a couple [dropballs] hang, but she did a great job."

Camarillo, the only unbeaten Southern Section large-school division team in the region, has allowed only one run in 60 innings.

It was unearned.

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