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MAY 30, 2011 – So many story lines developed during the Capuchino softball team’s 5-4 win over Santa Catalina in the Division III final to clinch the Mustangs’ first Central Coast Section title since 1997.

Was the story the second-seeded Mustangs fulfilling their destiny after seeing a title suddenly taken away in the 2010 final? Was it a notoriously slow starting Capuchino offense breaking out early, scoring three runs in the top of the first inning? Was is a senior class working on only a couple hours of sleep after celebrating Grad Night Friday night? Was it a defense, which committed four errors, making up for those miscues with head’s up defensive plays?

It was all that and more for the Mustangs, who survived a wild sixth and seventh inning from the Cougars to take to championship.

Perhaps Capuchino shortstop Jennifer Lewis summed up best the Mustangs’ win.

"We just wanted it more,” Lewis said.

In the end, that appeared to be the case. Lewis, who contributed a couple of the fielding miscues, more than made up for those with a pair of spectacular individual efforts. With Capuchino leading 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth and a Santa Catalina runner at first, the Cougars’ Izzy Williams hit a slow roller into the middle of the infield. The ball deflected off Capuchino second baseman Arianna Wassmer’s glove. Lewis scrambled after the ball, picked it up barehanded and made a head-long dive to second base, tagging the bag a split second before the runner got there.

A head’s up Lewis was also part of the final play of the game. A single to right by Rene Kausin drove in a run to cut the Cougars lead to 5-4. Right fielder Kelly McDaid fired home late, but Kausin was hung up between first and second. She finally broke for second before catcher Jamie Navarro saw her. She fired a strike to Lewis, who swept a tag on Kausin for the final out of the game and set off the Capuchino celebration.

"We always seem to come up with big plays,” said Capuchino pitcher Michele Pilster.

Lewis’ plays were just a pair of a handful of big defensive plays the Mustangs made. In the third inning, the Mustangs made a pair of errors, but got a huge out when a Santa Catalina baserunner slid past the bag at third base and was tagged out attempting to get back to the bag by Cap’s Alexis Coulter. In bottom of the sixth and clinging to a 4-2 lead, the Mustangs defense got two huge defensive plays. First, they eliminated a Cougars baserunner in a rundown between third and home. Later in the inning, left fielder Eleni Katout came tearing in and made a sliding catch on her knees to end the inning.

"We have been working with our outfielders on sliding catches all year long. At the beginning of the year, that would have fallen in,” said Capuchino coach Todd Grammatico. "The way we play, we learn to play through the errors.

"We got some breaks today.”

The breaks came early for Capuchino (23-6 overall), as all three of its first-inning runs came with two outs. Lewis started the rally with a single up the middle and was followed by a single from Wassmer. Pilster drove in the first run of the game with a single to left.

With runners at second and third, Gabby Tudury came to the plate. On a 2-2 count, the pitch came in about eye high. Tudury tried to stop her swing, but couldn’t. Fortunately for her, she made contact – which went for a check-swing, two-run single to center.

Just like that, Capuchino was up 3-0.

"I don’t know what we did (to get off to a quick start),” said Pilster, who admitted she only got 2 ? hours of sleep after a Grad Night outing at a miniature golf course/go cart/arcade in the East Bay.

Even as she was celebrating her graduation from high school, Pilster kept this game in the back of her mind.

"I wanted to be here so much more (than Grad Night). Just knowing I had a game I tried to stay hydrated and eat well,” Pilster said.

There was no player more determined to win this title than Pilster. A four-year varsity player and the team’s ace pitcher the last three, Pilster felt the worst after losing to Valley Christian in the finals last year.

"She wanted this game more than anyone,” Grammatico said of Pilster.

With a three-run cushion, Pilster – who is a contact pitcher – relied on her defense to help her at every turn. She retired the side in order in only one inning, the fifth, and maintained her composure when Santa Catalina (22-4) finally mounted its comeback in the sixth and seventh innings.

With Capuchino leading 4-0 following an RBI single from Katout in the top of the sixth, the Cougars finally got to Pilster in the bottom of the frame. The first four batters of the inning reached base for the Cougars, with Kausin driving in the first run with a single to left. Williams followed with a RBI groundout for the first out, Chase Leehong was erased in a run down and Katout made her sliding catch to end the inning with the Mustangs leading 4-2.

Capuchino added an insurance run in the top of the seventh, which proved to be the winning run. Navarro led off the inning with a walk, moved to second on a Coulter sacrifice bunt and scored on Lewis’ single to center – who did a great job waiting on a changeup.

Navarro’s run proved to be vital as Santa Catalina scored twice in its final at-bat, but had the tying run thrown out at second to end the game.

"Last year, that loss killed me,” Pilster said. "Having this win means everything to me. I’ll always remember this day.”

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