Moorpark Musketeer softball put on a deep-shot clinic at Saugus on Tuesday.
The Musketeers sent five bombs out of the yard en route to a 5-0 win in the second round of the CIF Division 2 playoffs over the Saugus Centurions.
Sophomore Syndey Burckhard led Moorpark (20-1) with a pair of homers, her first two of the season.
Saugus (18-11) sparked early but was kept out of rhythm after stranding three Centurion base runners in the first inning. Moorpark pitcher Madison Finnerty went all seven innings in the circle and kept the Cents scoreless.
Whether the team stranded runners or struggled to get on base, Saugus coach Amanda Clark loved her team’s energy throughout the contest.
“I liked the intensity of the game,” Clark said. “Our girls were in it the whole way and even when they were hitting three home runs in a row, our girls didn’t let down at all. Against Redondo the other day, we were down 4-0 in the beginning and we came back. Today we never gave up, but we just couldn’t get that rally going.”
Finnerty, a junior, allowed five hits, no runs, struck out six batters and had a spurt where she retired 14 of 15 straight batters. The junior also added the first home run of the day at the plate.
“I thought we were going to bust it open at some point,” Clark added. “I think against a pitcher like Maddie you need nine or 10 innings, though.”
Centurion freshman Kona Ramsbottom gave up three dingers in the fourth inning, following a hot start. After surrendering a leadoff hit to start the game, Ramsbottom retired her next nine straight opponents.
Freshman Taliya Mata entered in relief and stopped the bleeding, striking out her only two batters in the inning.
Mata stayed the course but fell victim to more power hitting in the sixth inning. Third baseman Driana Martinez hammered the first pitch of the inning out of play and was followed by Burckhard’s second solo-shot one at-bat later.
Sami Stadtlander led Saugus at the plate in her varsity finale. Stadtlander was the only Centurion to get the better of Finnerty more than once and finished 2-for-2 with a walk.
Moorpark displayed why they are the top-ranked team in Division 2 and will now head to the CIF quarterfinals while Saugus heads into the off-season.
Clark believed the team did all they could, but even in defeat praised their opponents in Moorpark.
“We peaked at the right time, but it stinks when you run into the one seed in your second game in playoffs,” Clark said. “They’ve lost one game all year and they’re just a phenomenal team. They’re going to hopefully win it all.”
The Centurions’ program has thrived under Clark and, while some talented seniors will depart this off-season, the near future could entail more league titles. The team went undefeated in league last year and capped off her second season with the program’s first playoff win in 11 years.
Four-year varsity player Madison Campeau has seen a lot in her four years at Saugus but ending the playoff drought this year meant the world to her and her four fellow seniors.
“I think it meant so much more to the seniors here who had gone through so much since freshman year with the shooting, and then sophomore year we wouldn’t even go to school because of COVID. In junior year, we won league so we wanted to kind of continue that and end on a strong note. I think the rest of the team recognized how much it meant to the seniors and we realized that the most memorable thing that we could do is break the losing streak in the playoffs.”
Campeau helped create a bond with this team and perhaps helped shape up the culture for Saugus.
“The best part of this group is the fact that there was no dominant class,” Campeau said. “In the past, seniors and juniors have been dominant over freshmen and sophomores. I think it’s more just like a big group of friends. At first it was kind of hard but once we kind of figured out what we needed to do on the team, it was just fun. We can joke with each other. We can go out to dinner, we can hang out outside of softball, which is kind of unique because in my past years we haven’t been able to do that. So that’s the thing I’ll take away most from this team, the sisterhood that we’ve created.”
The seniors departing will leave tough shoes to fill in the Centurion lineup. However, the team will return a pair of freshman standout pitchers in Ramsbottom and Mata. The two now have CIF experience and get another year with First Team All-League catcher Kaylie Stauffer. Saugus will return 11 underclassmen to the squad next year and will showcase another senior class of at least five Centurions, who will aim to lead their team back to the top of the Foothill League.