Mater Dei Catholic softball coach Mike Centrullo has come to expect the unexpected from his Crusaders team.
SANTEE “That’s just what this team does.”
Those words, spoken by Mater Dei Catholic softball coach Mike Centrullo, sum up the Crusaders’ thrilling 7-6, eight-inning victory over San Pasqual on Thursday to advance to the San Diego Section finals for the fifth straight year.
Riding a 3-2 lead since the bottom of the third in the Division II winner’s bracket semifinal at Santee Sportsplex, Mater Dei (17-11) saw its advantage slip away when the Eagles’ Autumn McCollister smashed a tying home run over the left field fence with nobody out in the top of the seventh.
McCollister wasn’t done there.
In the top of the eighth she nailed her fourth hit of the game with a three-run round-tripper to give the ninth-seeded Eagles (16-14) a 6-3 lead.
Centrullo was still confident in his squad, which has won four straight Division IV titles.
“I felt if we could get one or two on they would catch some life,” said Centrullo.
The Crusaders got a couple on when senior Lindsey Finch rocketed a ground-rule double to right center to cut the San Pasqual lead to two.
“I’ve never hit a ground-rule double,” said Finch. “In fact I haven’t hit anything like that all year.”
Alexis Morales followed with another RBI and then Centrullo pulled off a little trickery. Sophia Herrera put down a perfect suicide squeeze to bring in Finch to tie the game.
The winning run came in on an errant pickoff attempt at third.
“This is the way every year with this team,” said Centrullo. “It’s never over with this team; year after year, game after game.”