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High Schools | SOFTBALL REPORT

Playoffs Ideal for Unexpected

May 27, 2003|Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writer

Winning a Southern Section softball title is probably the most difficult team championship to win. Games are often decided by an error, and because of the low-scoring nature of the sport -- at least when it is played at a high level -- there is little margin for error.

But the playoffs also represent an opportunity for the little-known player to shine. That was the case in the wild-card round, when junior Holly Bussey delivered for Moreno Valley Canyon Springs.

The Cougars finished third in the Ivy League behind Riverside Poly and Moreno Valley. Bussey, the No. 8 hitter in the lineup, went into the playoffs with a .161 batting average and two runs batted in.

But facing Upland, she turned into Lisa Fernandez, getting three hits, driving in the first three runs with a single in the second inning and a towering two-run triple in the fourth, and scoring a run in a 4-2 win over Upland in a wild-card game.

"I haven't had the greatest season," Bussey said of her nine-for-56 performance at the plate this year. "I should have contributed more, but I did my best. That's all a player can do. It takes a whole team to win a championship."

Kortney Bell, a .197 hitter for Valencia, was an example in the first round on Friday. Her one-out, seventh-inning run-scoring triple defeated Westlake Village Westlake, 1-0.

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Erica Hansen of San Clemente won admirers earlier this season when she didn't let a couple of missing teeth get in the way of a tournament doubleheader.

Hansen, a junior, had been fielding ground balls from her dad, Eric, the night before the Woodbridge tournament. A ball took a bad bounce and took out two teeth. Initially, only one tooth could be found and it was reinserted with braces.

"We went back later and found the other tooth about 12 feet from where I got hit," Hansen said. "We're going to use it as a mold for a replacement."

She went three for three with a home run and two terrific defensive plays in a 6-2 victory over La Palma Kennedy.

San Clemente (20-8), a wild-card team, upset Moreno Valleyon Friday and will be host to Irvine Woodbridge in a Division I second-round game today.

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Vanessa Perez, a freshman at Sun Valley Poly, can stake the same claim as Crescenta Valley's Amanda Peek, who played two years of baseball before joining the softball program this year.

Perez made the school's junior varsity baseball team, but decided to play softball after discussing it with her brother and a baseball coach.

"She has the tools to be a Division I prospect," said softball Coach Manny Peralta. "Her heart was in baseball, but any future was going to be in softball, and she was a great addition to the program."

Perez batted .385 with 22 runs batted in for Poly.

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Kendra Tarrant, 20, was probably the youngest acting head coach in Southern California. She began the season as an assistant at Huntington Beach Edison (14-15), but that changed with Operation Iraqi Freedom. Suzy Mathieson opted to handle the administrative duties of head coach while tending to her daughter, Kacey, 4, and spending every moment she could with her husband, Gary, who flew support missions with the Air Force Reserves.

It put Tarrant in a unique position, being the coach of players with whom she had been teammates three years earlier -- pitcher Stacy Birk, third baseman Vanessa Luis and second baseman Lisa Dell.

"I only got asked a dozen times to put on a helmet when I was coaching third base because the umpires thought I was still in high school," Tarrant said. "And when I'd go to home plate for the pregame meeting, they'd tell me, 'No, we need your coach.' "

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EXTRA BASES

NOTABLE

* Wild-card teams went 4-22 in the first round of the Southern Section playoffs, including 0-7 in Division III. No more than one wild-card team in any division advanced to the second round. However, Covina Western Christian (12-7) scored a 3-0 victory over third-seeded Thousand Oaks La Reina (14-5-1) in Division V.

HEROICS

* Sherie Lawson brought to an end the fourth-longest game in Southern Section history with her run-scoring single in the 27th inning to give Villa Park a 1-0 victory over Temecula Valley in the first round of a Division II game Monday that was suspended Friday after a scoreless 23 innings.

* Britney Moore's double in the bottom of the ninth gave No. 1 Corona Santiago a 1-0 victory over Glendora St. Lucy's in Division II on Friday.

* Kelly Cabana drove in Crista Seeman with the winning run in the 11th inning to give No. 18 Woodbridge a 2-1 win over Rancho Cucamonga in Division I on Thursday.

* Jessie Shull hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Downey Warren a 4-3 victory over Santa Monica in Division III on Friday.

LOOKING AHEAD

* For the fourth consecutive year, San Pedro and Carson will play for the City Championship when they meet today at 4:15 p.m. at UCLA. Washington plays Monroe at 2 p.m. in the City Invitational game.

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