The Score: Cap 7, Notre Dame-Salinas 3.
The Star: In addition to playing airtight defense at shortstop, Capuchino High junior Jennifer Lewis wielded her team’s loudest bat and was in the thick of two big innings that powered the Mustangs to their second straight Central Coast Section championship game. The No. 3 hitter clobbered a two-out RBI triple to right-center to kick off a three-run third that put Cap in front for good at 4-3. And then Lewis (2 for 4) led off the fifth with a double to the wall in left-center and scored as the Mustangs pushed across two more runs to take a 6-3 lead in the Division III semifinal on Wednesday night at PAL Stadium in San Jose.
The Turning Point: After No. 3 seed Notre Dame-Salinas (18-11) took a 3-1 lead by scoring three times in the top of the third, second-seeded Cap rallied immediately. The Mustangs strung together three consecutive RBI hits with two outs – triples from Lewis and Ariana Wassmer and then a single by pitcher Michele Pilster – to surge ahead 4-3 in the bottom of the inning. That helped Pilster settle down in the circle – she threw a 1-2-3 fourth and didn’t allow another run the rest of the way – and Cap pulled away in the later innings.
The Quote: “We’ve worked so hard just to finally get here again. … Most of us have played together forever, and this is our last hurrah. … It was so hard for me last year. I was on the bench holding my head in my hands during the last few outs, just praying. … But this is a new season, and we’re here to win it.” – Capuchino senior designated player Jessica Shelton, on the emotion of a return trip to the CCS Division III final and the lingering feeling of her team’s heartbreaking loss to Valley Christian in the 2010 championship.
What’s Next? Graduation on Friday, then Grad Night … and finally a second straight trip to the Division III title game. Capuchino (22-6) faces Santa Catalina (22-3) on Saturday at 10 a.m. at PAL Stadium in San Jose. Top-seeded Santa Catalina beat No. 4 seed Soquel 4-3 in Wednesday’s earlier semifinal.
The Bottom Line: Cap stands one win away from claiming its first CCS championship since 1997, and it has a golden chance to wipe away the bitter taste of last year’s 2-1 defeat in eight innings to Valley Christian in the final. Against Notre Dame-Salinas, the Mustangs’ bats were booming – which meant a big victory despite a defense that looked shaky late in the game and a Pilster outing that was decent but far from great.
Notes: Pilster, who tripled and scored in the second, went 3 for 4 with an RBI to lead a nine-hit attack that included four extra-base knocks. … Catcher Jamie Navarro also enjoyed a multi-hit night, finishing 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs. … Since Cap won the last of its five straight CCS titles 14 years ago, the Mustangs have reached a final three times, falling in 1999, 2002 and 2010. … Notre Dame-Salinas totaled eight hits, all singles.
Capuchino 7, Notre Dame-Salinas 3
ND – 003 000 0 – 3 8 3
C – 013 021 x – 7 9 2
3B: Pilster, Lewis, Wassmer (C). 2B: Lewis (C). 3 hits: Pilster (C). 2 hits: Balestreri, Carpenter, Valadares (ND); Navarro, Lewis (C).
Records: Notre Dame-Salinas 18-11. Capuchino 22-6.