Twin shutouts by freshman Taylor Neumann and sophomore Bonnie Ward against cross-country rival Ventura clinched the host Raiders' first Western State Conference championship in seven years Thursday afternoon.
Backed by near flawless defense highlighted by stalwart third baseman Michelle Zakosek, the pitching pair made it look a lot easier than it felt.
Barely a month into the rebirth of her pitching career, Neumann, Moorpark's starting catcher, improved to 6-2 by scattering four hits and inducing 12 ground ball outs over seven shutout innings of a 2-0 Game 1 victory.
Little more than a year after sustaining a knee ligament injury that left her pitching future in doubt, Ward picked up her 20th win of the season, 1-0, with a three-hit shutout.
The sweep ballooned a half-game lead to two and a half with one day to play. Moorpark (30-12, 18-5) faces Oxnard Tuesday while Ventura (23-16, 15-7) has a doubleheader with Santa Barbara City.
"Ventura and Cuesta have been the teams to beat," said Moorpark coach Kelly Lovato. "It's just sweet to do this at home with two shutouts."
Moorpark built an early 2-0 lead in the first game on Jennifer Irvine's second-inning RBI single, after Ward had left off with a double off the left-center field wall, and Ward's third-inning RBI single, which followed Kristen Torres' single and Zakosek's double with one out.
But infield singles by Ventura's Kim Pilpil and Ashley Dasnoit put the tying runs on base with no outs in the sixth.
The Raiders' exhales came in the form of line drive to shortstop Jamie Yaller, who quickly started the triple play.
Moorpark led nearly the whole way in the second game, taking the lead in the bottom of the first inning as Neumann reached on an infield misplay, was moved over twice by sacrifices and scored on a passed ball.