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All of a Sudden, Taft Goes Into Reverse Against Conquistadores

High school softball: El Camino Real scores 11 runs in the third inning and romps with help of six errors in West Valley League play.


WOODLAND HILLS — The look of disbelief on Jim Lutz's face said it all.

The seven-year Taft High softball coach had every reason to believe his team was prepared to challenge perennial favorite El Camino Real for the West Valley League title.

"We had a good talk [Monday]," Lutz said. "We had a good workout and the girls came to play softball."

And the Toreadors lived up to Lutz's expectations . . . for two innings.

Then the unthinkable. And ugly only begins to explain it.

El Camino Real sent 14 batters to the plate and scored 11 runs in the third inning to fuel a 16-1 victory Tuesday in a league game called after five innings because of the 10-run rule.

"I don't know [what happened]," said Lutz, shaking his head. "I have no idea. I can't even explain it."

Lutz isn't accustomed to such carnage. Not this year. Not after his team won 11 of 12 games and gave him reason to believe the Toreadors could go toe-to-toe with the giant that is El Camino Real.

"From what I heard, they were supposed to be pretty good," Coach Lori Chandler of El Camino Real said.

Except for the earned run Taft scored in the first inning on Dana Finkelstein's line single to right-center field, the Toreadors looked feeble.

Taft (13-7, 3-2 in league play) had no hits and only one baserunner after the first inning and made six errors.

"We didn't play anything like we're capable [of playing] and it's discouraging," Lutz said. "We made more errors in one game than half of the season."

The Conquistadores (16-4, 5-0) had seven hits, including three home runs, in the third inning.

Stacy Nicklaus led off with an infield single. Catie Goldblatt was safe on an error and Lily Landers was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Christina Enea flied out to right before Melissa Coogan hit a ground ball to shortstop Finkelstein, who threw out Nicklaus at the plate.

With the table set, the Conquistadores began to feast on some meaty pitches from Jillian Johnson (11-3).

"I kept saying, 'Be patient, be patient, be patient,' " Chandler said.

Megan Zwoyer hit a two-run single to break a 1-1 tie. Kelly Lombard followed with a three-run home run. Kelsey Walker singled before Lindsay Goldblatt's two-run homer.

"We've been practicing [hitting] different speeds and our team really came through and hit well," Lombard said.

Catie Goldblatt singled in a run. After Landers walked, Enea hit a three-run homer to left field for a 12-1 lead.

El Camino Real tapped relief pitcher Caitlin Savage for four runs in the fourth on a single by pinch-hitter Brecken Bronner and three errors.

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