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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | SOFTBALL

Royal Ends 25 Years of Frustration

March 18, 2001|MITCH POLIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

SIMI VALLEY — Royal High won the Simi Valley tournament after 25 years of trying, beating rival Simi Valley, 2-1, Saturday at Rancho Simi Community Park.

The Highlanders (5-1) had never won more than a consolation title in the tournament and hadn't defeated Simi Valley since 1996.

"It's always big if you can beat Simi anywhere and anyplace," Royal Coach Kelly Lovato said. "We've never made it to the top three in this tournament. This is sweet."

Brilliant relief pitching by freshman Jordan McPherson held off Simi Valley.

McPherson gave up no runs and three hits in three innings and stranded the potential tying and go-ahead runs on second and third in the seventh.

The Pioneers (3-3-1) had runners on first and second with one out before McPherson induced Nicole Gutierrez to ground out and Jenni Shields to pop out to end the game.

It couldn't have happened at a better time for McPherson.

She said she was concerned in the seventh inning because she had a blown save in her last outing.

"I was scared to death," McPherson said. "I lost the game Thursday [against Moorpark] after being brought in and I didn't want that to happen again."

The victory couldn't have happened without the clutch hitting and defense of catcher Lauren Allen, who was selected the tournament's most valuable player.

Allen blocked the plate to prevent Gina Bora from scoring in the second inning, preserving Royal's 1-0 lead.

Allen also tripled to left field with two out in the sixth and scored on an error by Gutierrez.

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