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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

It's a Whole New Experience for Cornerstone Christian

Division VI: Hartnell, Aguilera lead Eagles over Lone Pine, 1-0, in Southern Section title game.

June 07, 1998|PAIGE A. LEECH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAKEWOOD — The freshmen battery was still in shock.

But as pitcher Julia Hartnell of Camarillo Cornerstone Christian High began to absorb the events of the previous 90 minutes, she found the words to describe the significance of her performance and that of catcher Sarena Aguilera.

"It means we have more to live up to next year," Hartnell said.

Paced by Hartnell's one-hitter and Aguilera's game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh inning, Cornerstone Christian defeated Lone Pine, 1-0, Saturday at Mayfair Park to win its first Southern Section Division VI softball title.

Cornerstone Christian, with an enrollment of about 85, was making only its second appearance in a softball championship game. The Eagles lost to Linfield, 8-0, in 1995.

"I think we're still in shock," second-year Coach Mike Monzo said.

Probably because it all seemed to happen in a flash for Cornerstone Christian, which defeated Lone Pine, 5-2, in a tournament game earlier this year.

In a hitless game through six innings, top-seeded Cornerstone Christian (22-3) put together its two hits in the seventh for the victory.

"I had the confidence we would score, it was just a matter of when," Monzo said.

Julia Tamai blooped a single to center field, but was thrown out trying to steal second base on the next pitch by catcher Phoebe Prather, who erased two of three runners attempting to steal.

Karri Becker walked and advanced to second on Alizabeth Johnston's sacrifice.

Aguilera followed with the game-winner, lining a dropball up the middle.

"That couldn't have been a more perfect hit, a soft line drive up the middle. If it had been hit any harder, the center fielder might have thrown [Johnston] out," Monzo said.

Monzo said Aguilera's heroics caught him by surprise. And for good reason.

Aguilera, 5 feet 1 and 97 pounds, entered the game with a team-low .227 batting average.

Aguilera, the only Cornerstone Christian player to put the ball in play in each of her three plate appearances, said she was a bundle of nerves in her final at-bat. But she said she doesn't perform well under pressure, so she changed her mindset.

"I kind of just let go of all those nerves and concentrated on what I had to do," Aguilera said.

Hartnell's pitching kept Lone Pine (19-7-1) off the base paths.

The right-hander was perfect through six innings, including seven consecutive strikeouts in one stretch, before surrendering a single to Staci Christensen to start the seventh.

But Aguilera rescued Hartnell, throwing out Christensen at second base on an attempted steal.

Hartnell (14-3), who struck out nine and faced the minimum number of batters, said she was erratic in pregame warmups. Then she stopped to pray with Aguilera and a school administrator.

"Everything just clicked," Hartnell said. "Before [praying], I was throwing all over the place."

Pitches were clicking as well for Lone Pine's Marina Cervantes (16-6), who struck out five and walked two.

But her teammates offered little offensive support.

"If we could pick out why bats go south, we could sell that to a lot of coaches," Lone Pine Coach Larry Benbrook said.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

SOUTHERN SECTION SOFTBALL FINALS

At Mayfair Park

DIVISION I

* Mater Dei: 4

* Ayala: 1

DIVISION III

* Pacifica: 1

* St. Lucy's: 0

DIVISION V

* Calvary Chapel: 1

* Orange Lutheran: 0

DIVISION VI

* Cornerstone Christian: 1

* Lone Pine: 0

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