IRVINE -- Bianca Noriega homered and Sarah Shadinger pitched a four-hitter and Camarillo won the Southern Section Division 2 softball championship with a 5-1 victory Saturday over La Mirada.
Noriega's blast in the second inning over the left-field fence at Barber Park was just another in a series of good cuts taken by Camarillo batters against three La Mirada pitchers.
"I don't know if it was a mistake," Noriega said of the pitch, "but it was right in my wheelhouse." The Scorpions got eight hits in total in winning their 12th consecutive game.
It's the second title in three championship appearances for fourth-seeded Camarillo (26-7). La Mirada (21-12), the third-place team from the Suburban League, was in the finals for the fifth time. Its only title came in 1991, the same year Camarillo had last won a championship.
Entering the game, Shadinger (19-5) had averaged 10.7 strikeouts per game, but she had only two against the Matadores, and she withstood three errors behind her.
Once Shadinger got the lead, she began feeling pretty good about her team's chances of finishing. "Once we got that run, I feel such a relief," she said of Noriega's homer. "It's like the team has my back."
She wasn't the only one talking about players having each other's back, and that's the direct result of coach Jack Willard trying to develop a greater sense of team than in the past. He did that because of the team's limited success in the playoffs the last two years. The championship, he said, began in September. "We made a concerted effort to be more team-oriented," he said.
Camarillo added another run in the fourth inning on Kristie Dederick's RBI single, which chased pitcher Ambar Hickman (12-6).
The Scorpions added two runs in the fifth against reliever Jen Rivas on a fielder's choice, an error that plated Hayley Chamberlain and Shelbie Franc's single that sscored Jenna King. They added another in the sixth inning on Noriega's single and an RBI single by Dederick.
La Mirada rallied in the top of the sixth inning. Hickman boarded on a throwing error, and Annie DiPillo doubled home the run. Ana Pedroza singled home what appeared to be a second run and took second base on the throw, but it was ruled after a lengthy discussion that Pedroza batted out of order; she was called out, the run was taken off the scoreboard and DiPillo returned to second base. La Mirada eventualy loaded the bases with a pair of walks and a fielder's choice bringing Pedroza to the plate -- legally -- but she grounded to second base to end the inning.
Willard credited assistant coach Andi Ramirez with making the catch. In fact, he said La Mirada, which had made several substitutions, had batted out of order earlier in the game. He waited until La Mirada made something happen before he pointed out the mistake.