Scorpions reach section softball final

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© Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
Camarillo High ace pitcher Sarah Shadinger fires a fastball toward home plate during Tuesday’s dramatic 5-3 come-from-behind victory over Irvine in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 softball semifinals. Shadinger, a junior, will start in the circle when the Scorpions take on La Mirada in Saturday’s section championship game at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine. © Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
Winning is contagious, and these girls are sick.

By the time they arrive at Saturday’s CIF-Southern Section Division 2 championship in Irvine, 41 days will have passed since the Camarillo High softball team went home on the wrong end of the scoreboard.

These super-charged Scorpions have reeled off 12 consecutive victories in a myriad of mind-bending fashions.

There was the 22-0 spanking of Channel Islands, the 11-2 thumping put on Division 4 section championship qualifier Dos Pueblos—on the road, no less—and the 2-1 nail-bitter at home against Northwood in the opening round of the playoffs.

Even the Northwood game, however, couldn’t match the drama produced Tuesday afternoon at ACHS with a spot in the section title game teetering in the balance.

With her team trailing Irvine 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning—having just surrendered a 2-1 advantage in the top half of the frame—Scorpion freshman pinch hitter Megan Resnik stepped to the plate with one out and two runners on base.

Resnik worked Irvine senior pitcher Allison Cukrov to a three ball, one strike count.

Like an MIT student tracking cards at a blackjack table, Resnik had skillfully maneuvered the odds in her favor. Now it was time to cash in Camarillo’s chips.

“Three-and-one she wants to throw a strike,” the freshman said. “That’s what I was thinking.”

Fastball?

“I was hoping for one,” Resnik said.

Did she get it?

“Yes, I did,” she said.

Start the bus.

Resnik crushed Cukrov’s offering over the left-field fence, giving Camarillo a breathtaking 5-3 victory and sending the program to its first CIF-SS championship game since 1996.

“I’ll always remember this one,” said Resnik, a catcher by trade. “What a great experience.”

By virtue of Resnik’s clutch blast and a standout performance from junior Sarah Shadinger— who pitched all seven innings and had a pair of run-scoring doubles as the team’s cleanup hitter— Camarillo earned a spot in the Division 2 final opposite La Mirada.

Saturday’s showdown is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine.

Tickets are $9 for adults and $5 for children and students with ID.

Camarillo, the Pacific View League champion, enters the contest with a 25-7 overall record.

The program won its only section banner in 1991 while competing in Division 5A.

La Mirada, second-place finishers in the Suburban League, is 21-11.

The Matadors have won seven straight, including a 3-1 decision over Oxnard in the semifinals.

According to Camarillo head coach Jack Willard, Shadinger, an Oregon State-commit, will start in the circle against La Mirada.

Coming off the emotional high against Irvine, Shadinger said the Scorpions will remain grounded.

“We’re just going to do what we do,” said the hard-throwing right-hander. “We practice hard all week and then we go get ’em.”

The first five hitters in Camarillo’s lineup—sophomore shortstop Hayley Chamberlain, senior center fielder Jenna King, sophomore second baseman Shelbie Franc, Shadinger and junior right fielder Bianca Noriega— reached base 10 times in 17 atbats against Irvine.

Camarillo’s ninth hitter, freshman third baseman Chase Robledo, also added a pair of singles.

The Scorpion offense is so dangerous, Noriega said, because everyone in the lineup can produce, and that puts added pressure on opposing pitchers.

“No matter who it is coming up, we believe we can get it done,” Noriega said.

“We’re just going to bring that same game plan (Saturday)— come ready to play. We know we can do it.”

On a team dominated by underclassmen— eight of 14 players on the roster are freshmen or sophomores—Camarillo’s trio of seniors has provided a calming influence on and off the diamond.

“We don’t look at anyone as a freshman or a sophomore or a senior,” said senior Kristie Dederick, the team’s starting first baseman. “We all look at everyone as equals. . . .

“In my four years here, and for the other seniors, we’ve never had anything like this before. We’re so lucky to be here, so excited to play this weekend.”

Outfielder Natalie Noriega and King are the other ACHS seniors.

This group has forged a strong bond for many months.

The players eat dinner together on nights before games. They stay after practice for extra work and clean the field when they’re done. They get along and generally care about one another.

And, in less than 48 hours, they’ll attempt to accomplish the ultimate feat together: capturing a section championship for their high school.

“Winning,” Dederick said, “would mean everything to us.”

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