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El Camino Real Keeps Order

March 15, 2000|LAUREN PETERSON

It's a new team and a new season. Even the start of a new millennium.

But the results were the same when El Camino Real High and Kennedy played softball Tuesday.

The Conquistadores rode a three-run first inning to a 3-1 nonleague victory over Kennedy at Brand Park.

Even though defending City champion El Camino Real has five new starters, the Conquistadores appear capable of adding to the 10 City championships won under Coach Neils Ludlow, including victories over the Golden Cougars in the 1996 and '97 title games.

"We're all talented players," said Kelly Lombard, a freshman who had two of El Camino Real's nine hits. "We're bonding very well and we're getting together. I think we'll be fine."

Another inexperienced player with a big role is junior right-hander Melissa Coogan, who is one of two pitchers replacing All-City right-hander Ashley Redlin. Redlin went 17-2 and had a 0.48 earned-run average last season.

Coogan pitched only one inning last season, but she threw a three-hitter against Kennedy (6-2), surrendering two hits and an earned run with two out in the seventh inning. She struck out six and walked none.

"Coach told me before the season that I was going to have a totally new role this year, that I was going to get to pitch a lot more, and I was definitely ready for it," Coogan said.

Coogan (2-1) was supported by flawless defense and opportunistic offense.

El Camino Real (4-2-1) got out to a fast start.

In the first inning, Lombard singled with one out and moved to second when Coogan drew a two-out walk. Both scored on sophomore Kelsey Walker's double just over the head of Kristin Cookson in center. Cookson made a back-handed stab at a catch, but the ball glanced off the top of her glove.

Lily Landers followed with a single to right that drove in Walker.

Kennedy got a double by Karla Velasco with two outs in the second inning. Coogan retired the next 15 batters in order before allowing a two-out triple by Cookson and run-scoring single by pinch-hitter Antoinette DaSilva in the seventh.

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