Calvary Chapel won its second consecutive Southern Section Division V softball championship Saturday, but not without a last-inning fight from Olympic League rival Orange Lutheran.
The Lancers loaded the bases in the top of the seventh with one out, but Calvary Chapel pitcher Sarah Hughes got a forceout at home off a grounder and then got a strikeout to preserve a 1-0 victory at Mayfair Park in Lakewood.
Hughes, a sophomore, cruised into the last inning against the Lancers, whom she defeated twice during the regular season.
But one-out singles by Alicia Pharris and Amber Excell got things started for Orange Lutheran (20-10), which was making its first appearance in a section final after going 17 consecutive years without qualifying for the playoffs.
Hughes walked designated hitter Danielle Brown to load the bases.
"It was a combination of being nervous and losing my concentration," Hughes said.
Junior Melanie Morgan, the No. 9 hitter, grounded to second baseman Jaqueline Beadle, who threw out Pharris at the plate for the second out. Hughes struck out junior Jenny Miklos to end the game.
Shortstop Christy Ring, the leadoff hitter who was two for two and stole five bases, was the sparkplug for Calvary Chapel (23-4). She singled with two out in the third inning, then stole second and third.
Lindsey Stice, a left-handed batter, slapped a soft line drive just past the outstretched glove of a diving Miklos at second base for a single off pitcher Jessica Edwards (13-7) to drive in Ring, who scored both runs when the Eagles beat Lancaster Paraclete, 2-0, in the championship game last season.
"They pitched me inside the first two times we played them," Stice, a sophomore, said. "All week I worked on hitting inside pitches. That's why I pulled the ball the way I did. Normally, I should have hit it the other way."
Edwards faced the same scenario in the bottom of the fifth. Ring walked and stole two bases, but Edwards threw more fastballs and struck out Stice.
Ring also was flawless in the field, making several key assists, including two in the fourth inning that helped stifle the Lancers' only other scoring threat.
"She always seems to hurt us," Orange Lutheran Coach Steve Miklos said. "I'll be happy to see her go and I told her that when we shook hands after the game."
The Lancers, narrowly missed scoring a couple of runs in the fourth without a hit. An error opened the inning and that ultimately led to runners on second and third base with two outs. Excell lifted a fly ball down the right-field line that dropped foul by about a foot. On the next pitch she grounded out to Ring.
Ring, the two-time Olympic League MVP who also played girls' basketball on Calvary Chapel's Division IV-A section finalist, is the team's only senior starter. Orange Lutheran expects to return its entire starting lineup next season.
"Our goal when the season began was just to get into the playoffs," Coach Miklos said. "They've exceeded my expectations. They showed lots of character and stepped up to the pressure."