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Central atop IVL summit

May 15, 2001|By TOM RONCO, Special to this newspaper

BRAWLEY — Central Union High School downed Brawley Union High 1-0 in eight innings to claim the Imperial Valley League softball crown.

It was a great pitchers' duel between Central's Maria Perez, who gave up three hits while striking out 13 and walking two, and Brawley's Leighan Sudduth, who threw a four-hitter.

"This was a great defensive ball game and not just the pitching," said Central coach Sandy Montalvo. "Both of these teams are very strong and if we are the two teams selected from this league for the CIF tournament, then the IVL will be well-represented."

"There was a lot on the line today," said Perez. "This is my senior year, the last time I'll face Brawley, so I was focused all game."

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The Wildcats were playing for a co-championship after having lost to Central 1-0 earlier in the season.

"I tried to keep them off-balance and we played good defense," said Sudduth. "A couple of calls could have changed the game, but as a team we did OK."

"This was a great game," said Brawley coach Rahsahn Overton. "Both teams really went at it."

The only run came in the top of the eighth inning when Montalvo asked her seniors to get a run.

With two outs in the eighth, Central senior Jennifer Ramirez drew a walk from Sudduth on four straight pitches.

"I went up thinking I had to score," said Ramirez. "With the count 3-0, coach told me to just take the next pitch, which was OK because I had two more strikes."

It was only Sudduth's second walk, and Ramirez stole second to put a runner in scoring position for Central's other senior, Perez.

Sudduth quickly got ahead in the count 1-2 but the left-handed hitting Perez shot a line drive down the left-field line for a double, scoring Ramirez.

"I wanted to make coach's wish come true," said Perez. "This is the last year I'll play for her and it's exciting for her words to be the outcome of the game."

Perez finished off the Wildcats by striking out the side in the bottom of the eighth.

Not that the Wildcats did not have their chances to score.

Kaylin Rubin got on base three times for Brawley on a fielder's choice, a single and a walk.

"I wanted to win league and our defense was fine," said Rubin, who got as far as third base in the first and fourth innings on errors and stolen bases. "I had a chance to score twice, even though there were two outs each time, but I wanted to make something happen."

Brawley also had the lead-off runner on in the fourth when Erin Rutherford walked, the fifth when Reggie Horta got aboard on an error, and the seventh when Ebony Lofton singled, but Perez pitched out of each situation

Central, meanwhile, loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth on singles by Rachel Montalvo, Vanessa Long and Clarissa Maldonado but Sudduth struck out Claudia Maldonado to end the threat.

"I threw her two change-ups in a row because that's my favorite pitch in that situation," said Sudduth.

"Leighan did a great job," said Montalvo. "But offensively we struggled and we were throwing the bat at the ball."

Both coaches attributed some of the lack of offense to the unusual Monday game necessitated by the San Diego CIF softball seeding meeting being Thursday, which meant all league games had to be played by Wednesday.

"Monday is a bad day for a championship game because it's hard to get in the groove after playing on Tuesdays," said Montalvo. "It took a couple of innings to get into the game."

Added Overton: "As a coach you have a day away (Sunday) from your team and you have to work the kinks on the field."

The season will end Wednesday when Central (10-1 IVL) travels across El Centro to play at Southwest at 4:15 p.m. and Brawley (8-3) hosts Calexico at 3:15 p.m.

Southwest 8, Calexico 3

The Southwest High softball team downed Calexico 8-3 in IVL action in El Centro on Monday.

Picking up the win on the mound for Southwest was Lisa Garcia.

Getting the loss for Calexico (2-9 IVL) was Jennifer Martinez. Martinez finished 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run.

Palo Verde 4, Imperial 3

IMPERIAL — The Imperial High School softball team let its season finale slip away as it fell 4-3 to Palo Verde in IVL action here Monday.

Imperial held the lead through six innings but errors led to its demise.

Picking up the loss for the Tigers was Andrea Thompson. Ashley Taylor went 2-for-3 with an RBI for Imperial.

The Tigers end the season with a 10-11 overall mark and 2-10 IVL record.

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