A late offensive explosion fueled the run that notched Saugus Centurions softball’s first playoff win in 11 years.
The Centurions defeated the hosting Redondo Union Sea Hawks on Friday, 8-5, scoring eight unanswered runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Saugus (18-10) tore through three Redondo pitchers in the surge as the Cents’ bats exploded.
Saugus added hit after hit, quickly turning a 4-0 deficit into an 8-4 lead.
Madison Campeau, Shae Sabedra and Hailey Salgado led Saugus with two hits apiece while freshman Kona Ramsbottom came alive after the third inning.
Ramsbottom surrendered four runs to the Sea Hawks, all via home runs to Kayla Roe and Abby Luis. Pitcher Ava Mathew led Redondo (16-10) at the plate with a pair of hits, with one double. Even after the early bombs against Ramsbottom, the ace and catcher Kaylie Stauffer agreed to leave the pitcher in.
“Kaylie said to keep her in,” Cents coach Amanda Clark said in a phone interview. “She had some misses but she’s fine. From that point on, Kona shut them down. She dug deep and it was really amazing. The team was behind her.”
Saugus’ defense made several diving to plays behind Ramsbottom to stay alive in the game. Clark said she was amazed again by Sami Stadtlander’s ability to step up in a new position as the senior played second base for the first time in her playing career.
“Sami Stadtlander has been our utility player,” Clarks said. “She’s just played everywhere. Sami’s now playing second and she made some diving plays (Friday). She’s never played second, but you’d think she played it her whole life.”
Clark said playing in tournaments like the Bullhead City Spring Classic and a tough league schedule prepared the team for the gritty playoff win.
“I think our strength of schedule has really prepared us,” Clark said. “Playing in Bullhead and playing those big Division 1 teams made the difference, so when we get in this situation, we’re prepared. We played Camarillo to end the season and that set the tone and pace for us. It reminded us where we needed to be. The girls have really just come together at the right time.”
The team expects to win every game they play in but after having their best practice in potentially their last practice day of the season, the team knew the show would go on.
“They were excited,” Clark said. “It was crazy because we had a couple very good practices to end the year, but our last practice was probably our best practice of the year. In the final huddle, our girls said, ‘Coach this isn’t our last practice,’ and I felt the same.”
The Centurions will now advance to the CIF Division 2 second round, where they’ll host a playoff game for the first time in four years. Saugus will face the Moorpark Musketeers (19-1), a team with some familiar faces for the Centurions in their travel ball play.
Saugus will face Leigh University commit Madison Finnerty, a strong pitcher and batter for the Musketeers and travel ball colleague of several Centurions. Saugus will to ride its hot pitcher in Ramsbottom to match Finnerty in what should be another gritty game.
“Kona is throwing right now,” Clark said. “We can’t take the ball out of her hands. She’s dialed in. But Taliya Mata is ready for her moment.”
Saugus returns home on Tuesday to host Moorpark at 3:15 p.m.