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Winning Is Not Only Thing for Thousand Oaks

Girls' softball: Lancers (3-1-1) defeat Simi Valley, 4-1, but Coach Walin isn't happy with the performance of his team.


SIMI VALLEY — Thousand Oaks High showed a little of this and a little of that in a Marmonte League softball opener Tuesday.

But not nearly enough to satisfy Coach Gary Walin.

Not even on a day the Lancers played its fourth error-free game to claim a 4-1 victory over Simi Valley at Santa Susana Park.

"I feel very lucky to have beaten [Simi Valley] because we're not playing our best . . . and they're a quality team," Walin said.

Walin wasn't the only coach who expected a better effort.

Coach Suzanne Manlet of Simi Valley found very little to praise after watching her team make two errors and strand seven runners, including five in scoring position.

"We didn't come to play," Manlet said. "We left too many runners, [made] too many mistakes, too many mental mistakes."

Thousand Oaks (3-1-1), which got off to a shaky start in a doubleheader against Rio Mesa two weeks ago with a tie and a loss, is just now beginning to live up to Walin's expectations.

The first positive sign for Walin was Joey McKearn's two-run single that keyed a three-run fourth inning for a 3-0 lead.

"That was the first timely hit we've had all year," Walin said.

Thousand Oaks, ranked No. 7 in the region by The Times, had five hits off two Simi Valley pitchers and chased starter Brittney Green in the fifth. But the Lancers didn't get their first hit until Michelle Spencer's single in the fourth.

Still, Spencer's liner up the middle proved to be the spark the Lancers needed.

With one of the speediest lineups in the region, Thousand Oaks wasted no time testing Simi Valley's defense and catcher Jenni Shields. The first batter to reach base in the third stole a base.

And in the pivotal fourth inning, the first, second and third batters to reach base stole a base. Spencer, one of four left-handed slap hitters in lineup, stole two.

Speed? Yeah, Thousand Oaks certainly has that.

"We need it right now because we're not real sharp at the plate," Walin said.

Leading, 3-1, in the seventh, the Lancers continued to wreak havoc with its speed. Katie Richards and Andi Keesling both beat out bunts for singles after fielders hesitated on throws.

Pinch runner Taylor Cohen scored on Keesling's bunt for a 4-1 lead.

Junior right-hander Nicole Angelo (3-0) allowed five hits, struck out seven and walked three for Thousand Oaks.

Green, who is bound for Michigan State, scored for Simi Valley in the fourth on Shields' double over the center fielder's head.

No. 10 Simi Valley (4-3) stranded runners in scoring position in four innings.

In the fifth, the Pioneers had runners at second and third with none out, but were retired on two ground outs and a fly ball.

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