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Spartans knocked out of semis 4-3

May 25, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

ESCONDIDO — They say softball is a game of inches. If so, then the Central Union High School softball team missed advancing to the San Diego Section Division III finals by millimeters.

The Spartans (21-6) left the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning to fall to University of San Diego High School 4-3 here Thursday.

"I was very impressed with how the girls played," said Central coach Sandy Montalvo. "They didn't fold on me. They tried up until the last pitch."

Trailing 4-3, the Spartans entered the final frame appearing to be on their way home. Don starter Laura Ibarra struck out Central's Amber Marquez to start the inning. That's when the Spartan bats heated up.

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Monica Sandoval and Clarissa Maldonado banged singles and Claudia Maldonado drew a walk to load the bases for Central with one out.

The Spartans next hitter was Jennifer Ramirez and she had worn Ibarra out on this day. Ramirez had two hits and scored two runs. Ibarra won the showdown this time, forcing Ramirez to pop out to the catcher.

Central's last hope fell on the shoulders of starting pitcher Maria Hansen-Perez. After battling Ibarra, Perez was finally victim of the USDHS pitcher's 10th and final strikeout.

Montalvo added of her team, "I was very impressed with how they played. They gave people their money's worth."

The Spartans drew first blood. Clarissa Maldonado led off the game with a walk and stole second. With one out, Ramirez followed with her first hit of the game. One out later Cami Grundman blasted a double to left field, plating both runners and putting Central up 2-0.

The Dons were quick to strike back in the bottom of the first. USDHS' first hitter, Emily Turner, took Perez deep to center for a double. The Dons next hitter, Julie McMaster, scored Turner with a single, but Perez got out of the inning without suffering any more damage.

Perez held the lead for two innings before USDHS put three runs on the board in the fourth. With the aid of a hit batter and two Central errors, the Dons took a 4-2 advantage they would not surrender.

Central managed a run in the sixth. Ramirez led off the inning with a single and took second on a Perez sacrifice. Grundman followed with a fly ball to center that did not advance the runner. With two outs Nicky Carrion pinch hit and blasted a triple to left, scoring Ramirez. Guzman followed Carrion to the plate and popped up to the catcher, ending the Spartan rally.

Despite the heartbreaking conclusion to her team's season Montalvo was proud of the way her team performed.

"They showed a lot of heart today," she said. "This a good team and they've had a good season."

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