Chula Vista, CA, 4/24/14_Eastlake v. Mater Dei Catholic Softball.Mater Dei Catholic pitcher #24 Kelsey Muoz delivers against Eastlake Thursday. Muoz scored the winning run for Mater Dei beating Eastlake 2-1. Misael Virgen/ UT San Diego
CHULA VISTA Mater Dei Catholic softball coach Mike Centrullo said Thursday that this year’s team might be the best he’s ever coached.
It’s a strong statement for an eighth-ranked Crusaders team that started two freshmen, two sophomores and just two seniors in a Mesa League showdown at 10th-ranked Eastlake High, and an even stronger statement considering Centrullo and Mater Dei have won four straight CIF section titles.
But the Crusaders backed up their coach’s confidence with a 2-1 victory over Eastlake, just two days after losing a one-run game at home to Eastlake.
“Any time you have a league game, and you just lost a close one at your house, it’s really nice when you can come back in their house and win a tight one like this,” Centrullo said.
Freshman starter Kelsey Munoz took advantage of a rare starting opportunity to earn the win for Mater Dei Catholic (13-7, 1-1), pitching a complete game and allowing one run on five hits and three walks while striking out two.
Munoz gave up her only run in the first inning when she walked two batters while struggling to throw her change-up, but she settled down to shut out Eastlake (13-6, 3-1) over the final six innings.
“I started working more on movement and snap on my ball and not on speed,” Munoz said of overcoming her erratic change-up.
The freshman pitcher got defensive help from senior right fielder Lindsey Finch in the bottom of the fourth inning. With the game tied 1-1 and Eastlake runners on first and second, a single to right field looked like it might give Eastlake the lead. But Finch threw a strike to home plate to cut down the runner and preserve the tie.
Munoz scored the winning run for Mater Dei. She led off the top of the seventh with a looping double to left field, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by senior Amanda Hernandez and scored on a groundout by sophomore Kelly White.
Freshman catcher Eva Gonzalez drove in the Crusaders’ first run with an RBI double in the first inning to score junior Reyna Jamison.