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Calexico poses little opposition for Perez

April 28, 2001|By JON HINSHAW, Sports Writer

CALEXICO — It didn't take long for the Central Union High School softball team to score and it didn't take long for starting pitcher Maria Perez to assert her dominance.

The Spartans grabbed two runs in the first inning here Friday and Perez struck out two in a 1-2-3 first inning to set the tone in Central's 8-0 victory.

Perez's first frame was just a taste of what she was prepared to do against the Bulldogs, who Central defeated 6-0 in the first round of Imperial Valley League play. Along with giving up just one hit and walking one, Perez struck out 16 and faced just two batters over the minimum.

"She's had a good week," Spartan coach Sandy Montalvo said. "She faced just 21 batters over seven innings against Southwest. Maria pitched well and it helps that she knows she has a good defense behind her and a good catcher."

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Added Perez, "I just came in and pitched it like any other game. I saw what was working and what they were going after. We all just went out and played for the win."

The Bulldogs (2-14 overall, 1-6 IVL) knew what was coming but were aggressive at the plate. Their one hit and one walk came from starting pitcher Jennifer Martinez, and it was all Calexico could muster.

Perez struck out the side in three innings and threw 87 pitches, 68 strikes.

"When Maria is on she's tough," said Calexico coach Raul Martinez. "Any adjustment you make on offense, she'll adjust as well. We couldn't catch up to her today."

The Spartans (16-4, 6-1) didn't have trouble stroking hits against Martinez. Central had 10 hits and eight walks.

After scoring twice in the first, an outfield error by Calexico put Clarissa Maldonado on second to begin the third inning. Maldonado moved up on an error by the catcher and Perez plated her on a ground out for a 3-0 lead. Central added another run in the inning on a double steal when Cami Grundman took home.

Perez struck out the side in the third and her offense put some more runs on the board in the fourth.

With one out and the bases loaded, after a pair of singles by Amber Marquez and Rachel Montalvo and a walk to Vanessa Long, Maria Perez stroked a two-run single for a 6-0 lead.

"Producing on offense is what we've been working on," said Montalvo.

The Spartans added two more when Bulldog shortstop Christina Ramirez had a hard groundball hit by Grundman bounce off her glove and into the outfield. Montalvo scored on Ramirez's error and a bad exchange in the outfield allowed Perez to come around to finalize the scoring.

Martinez broke up Perez's no-hit bid in the fourth inning with a single. Perez then blew three pitches by Bea Cruz for the second out of the inning. Martinez was then gunned down at second base during Karla Perea's at-bat by Spartan catcher Amber Marquez.

Calexico's defense tightened in the fifth and sixth innings. Bulldog catcher Erika Zamora threw out two would-be base-stealers and Cruz gunned down Grundman at third base after Grundman tried to stretch a double into a triple.

Martinez walked in the final inning after fouling off four of Perez's rising fastballs, but Calexico again came away empty as a fielder's choice and a strikeout sealed the contest.

"We knew what we were up against and we knew she throws a good rise pitch," said coach Martinez. "We told our girls to try to lay off of it, but when she's pitching that good and with her velocity, it's hard to do. The only way for our girls to get better, however, is by competing against the best and today against Maria we did. The girls now know where they need to be to compete."

The Bulldogs play visiting Palo Verde at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday. Central will host Palo Verde at 3:15 p.m. Friday.

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