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Southwest girls trump Madison

May 21, 2002|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

If there's one aspect of the Southwest High softball team that carried it to an Imperial Valley League championship and a CIF San Diego Section Division III home game against Madison High of San Diego, it would be offense.

Riding an eight-game winning streak in which they outscored opponents 48-12, the No. 5-seeded Eagles (17-8 overall, 9-2 IVL) seemed destined to continue their offensive fireworks against No. 12 seed Madison (11-17), a team Southwest beat by the 10-run rule earlier this season.

Showing just how good they are, the Eagles played sub-par offensively compared to their last few games and still beat the visitors 4-1 in El Centro on Monday to advance to the second round of the postseason.

"We started a little late today. Our ‘O' wasn't as good as it's been but it was still enough when we needed it," said Southwest coach Stephanie Niebla, who earned her first playoff win as Eagle head coach.

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After beating their last three opponents by a combined 23-2 in which they averaged 11 hits, the Eagles were a bit quieter against the Warhawks, recording just eight hits.

But as Niebla alluded to, the hits Southwest did have were enough to get the win.

Tied 0-0 after an inning and a half, Southwest scored three runs over the second and third to take a 3-0 lead.

With the offense doing just enough, Eagle starting pitcher Melissa Lerno kept Madison off the base paths, not allowing a hit until the fourth. Lerno struck out seven of the first nine batters on her way to a 12-K performance. She also scored the team's first run in the second inning.

Of the eight Southwest hits, the biggest came in the fifth as Nikki Cordova blasted a solo home run over the left-field fence that gave the Eagles a 4-1 advantage.

Leading the Eagle offense was Jessica Conway, who finished with two hits and recorded an RBI.

"We played them last time, and today I really didn't think we'd come in and whup them like we did before," said Conway. "They were a good team, but we played really good defense and Melissa (Lerno) pitched a really good game."

Also recording two hits was Melissa Frausto, who had the team's first and last hits of the game.

"I think the difference between this game and the last game was that (Madison) played more as a team. I really think they've matured a lot since the last time we played them," said Frausto. "And the wind, too. The wind was pretty bad today. It kind of impaired our vision when we were in the field, so that made it pretty difficult."

Next for Southwest is a second-round game against the No. 4-seeded Santana High School at 3:30 today in Santee.

"If we can play an error-free game on defense and have a good day at the plate, I think we have a very good chance at winning it," said Frausto.

Added Niebla: "We don't have a day off for practice or anything, and I think that can actually work for us because we get to keep on playing, like a normal tournament. I know Santana's a decent team, so if we want to win it, we're going to have to play with our ‘A' game."

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