By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Saugus softball (17-7, 8-0) shut out Hart (15-8, 5-3) on their joint senior night at Newhall Park.
Starting pitcher Marina Provencio once again shined against the Indians in her complete-game, 14-strikeout, two-hitter night.
Hart would struggle to get going against Provencio, and one of the better power hitting teams in the Foothill League was blanked for the first time this season.
On offense, Madison Campeau led the way for the Centurions, smashing a two-run homer in the top of the first inning.
“I could’ve done better,” said Campeau. “After the first inning I thought, ‘Last game I hit two home runs, I want to do that again,’ so that was selfish on my part. I was over-anxious.”
Senior Miya Wilson would bring in the final run of the game later in the inning with a sacrifice fly.
Centurions Kaylie Stauffer and Caitlyn Connolly also did their part, each with a game-high two hits.
Saugus would go cold after their hot start, thanks in part to six masterful innings thrown by Hart starting pitcher Allison Howell.
“Senior night’s an emotional deal and I think our girls were a little too pumped up and it showed,” said Indians head coach Steve Calendo. “Allison missed a couple times but then she calmed down and threw a great game, pitch for pitch with [Provencio], who did a fantastic job.”
Howell gave her team opportunities throughout all seven innings to get back into the game but little to no one could get a hit off Provencio.
Hart’s ace struck out Saugus slugger Alyssa Ramirez to get out of the fourth with one runner on base. Howell followed the inning up with a perfect fifth.
Provencio could not be stopped and registered one of her two immaculate innings in the fifth, striking out three in a row.
“Our defense was on and Marina pitched a phenomenal game,” said Saugus head coach Amanda Clark. “Two-hitter, ridiculous.”
Hart had their best chance in the sixth inning. The Indians registered both of their hits thanks to consecutive two-out singles from Kamryn Smudde and Kate Penberthy.
Hart second baseman Alexis Lopez then came to the plate as the potential tying run. Lopez was hitting over .400 and has three homers on the season but couldn’t prevail against the Saugus ace.
Provencio then had the toughest part of the Indians’ order out of the mix and threw another immaculate inning to close the game out.
Hart currently sits in third place. The team is on the cusp of clinching its postseason ticket but will aim for as many wins as possible to finish strong and get a better seed.
“We still have to learn to adjust to a good pitcher,” said Calendo. “[Provencio] did a very good job. If we get to the playoffs, we’re going to see pitching like that and we have to adjust.”
Hart will head to Castaic on Tuesday at 3 p.m.
Saugus has now won three straight, clinching a playoff seed.
“I think we’re constantly getting better and better,” said Clark. “That’s kind of our motto, ‘One percent better every day,’ We can always grow and always learn.”
The Centurions sit atop of the Foothill League standings with a perfect league record. The team is in good shape to win the league title but will need the same play in their upcoming games with Canyon, Golden Valley and Castaic.
Saugus will host the Grizzlies on Tuesday at 3 p.m.