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OREGON OVERWHELMED PALMDALE VICTORIOUS.

Byline: GIDEON RUBIN Special to the Daily News

PALMDALE -- There is pressure that comes with being a heavy favorite, and additional pressure that comes with being a defending champion.

The Antelope Valley's defending World Series champion District 51 Regional Big League All Star softball team is facing both, but -- by all accounts -- is feeling neither.

The team's relaxed approach was a key factor Saturday in a 10-0 victory over Oregon's District 1 team in a Western Regional Tournament opener for both teams.

The District 51 team was scheduled to play Northern California's District 4 team later in the day.

The Antelope Valley-based District 51 Divisional team, which qualified for the tournament by winning the Southern California championship last week, lost Saturday to Arizona 1-0 in eight innings.

The Western Regional champion advances to Kalamazoo, Mich, for the Aug. 14-19 Big League World Series.

The District 51 is keeping things easy by design, under a directive from its coaches, manager Walt Patison said.

``We were way loose today,'' said District 51 third baseman Kelsie Blankenmeyer, a former Quartz Hill standout who now plays for Antelope Valley College and is among seven District 51 returnees.

``We're trying to take all the pressure off and just have a good time. We knew what to expect since we've been doing this a long time and we're just trying to have fun.''

Said pitcher Jessie Dunn: ``I wasn't even thinking about it. I was just excited to be out there.''

District 51 took advantage of four Oregon errors -- all in the first two innings -- to take a 4-0 lead.

Brooke Stix (AVC, Quartz Hill) had a two-run single and Rebecca Zapata (Palmdale) had an RBI double in a three-run inning in the top of the first.

Alaina Devenney (Quartz Hill) beat out an infield hit in the third, starting a three-run inning that broke the game open for District 51.

Devenney and Stix each had three hits, and Zapata was 2 for 4 with a solo homer in the seventh.

Dunn (1-0), a former Antelope Valley High flamethrower who now pitches for Dixie State (St. George, Utah), struck out nine batters in four innings of one-hit ball.

Johanna Ilejay (Palmdale), who started at shortstop, threw three innings of one-hit ball after switching positions with Dunn in the fifth.

Dunn contributed to the shutout defensively at shortstop in the sixth, making a great backhand play in the hole and throwing out Oregon's Katie Miller trying to score from third on a Kayla MacKinnon grounder.

gideon.rubin(at)dailynews.com

(818) 713-3607

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Palmdale's Johanna Ilejay and teammates give high-fives to Oregon players after Palmdale's 10-0 victory Saturday.

(2 -- coor) Brooke Stix of Palmdale District 51 All Stars catches a dog that delayed Saturday's game.

Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 6, 2006
Words:468
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