Coral Springs Charter softball coach Mark Montimurro said his car got broken into last week and his state championship ring won a year ago was lifted from the console.
Montimurro's players have vowed to get him a replacement and after Friday, the Panthers are well on their way.
Junior pitcher Ally Muraskin was terrific in throwing a no-hit shutout while striking out 13 in Coral Springs Charter's 6-0 victory over South Sumpter in a Class 5A state semifinal game at Dodgertown.
The Panthers (25-3) will face Bradenton Bayshore for their second consecutive championship Saturday at 10:05 a.m.
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"[Muraskin' has been our go-to now for the past two years and is always her best in the biggest games,'' said Montimurro, who was wearing his 2004 ring won at Hollywood Christian as a substitute on Friday.
"We knew South Sumpter was going to struggle against her, but we also knew we would have trouble with their pitcher. Once we broke through, we felt we were in pretty good shape.''
Muraskin was overwhelming again Friday as she opened by striking out eight of the first 10 batters faced then had the only lead she needed when she singled in Amanda Flynn from second with one out in the fourth.
The Panthers blew things open with five runs on two outs in the seventh.
"I told my girls when I got the final 3-2 count to just savor the moment,'' said Muraskin, who ended the day with her 13th strikeout. "When it was 1-0, were were grinding our teeth. Then we broke it open and were able to relax a little bit. But I had faith in my team. We were clutch.''
▪ Class 6A semifinal — American Heritage 5, Land O'Lakes 0: Two of the top pitchers at the state tournament locked up Friday with Madison Canby coming out on top.
The Heritage senior ended the Gators' 18-game win streak by scattering three hits and striking out 11 in the shutout.
The Patriots (25-2) will face Panama City Arnold (26-5) in their hunt for a second state championship in three years on Saturday at 12:35 p.m.
Heritage lost in last year's state title game to Baker County.
"It was great to know my defense was behind me, covering me in case anything went wrong,'' Canby said.
With neither team appearing to get anything going offensively, the Patriots took command in the top of the third inning when they finally put a run past senior pitcher Shannon Saile -- the FIU commit who had gone 49 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings.
With two outs, Kiauana Martin singled then stole second. Martin then came home on a single to left from Hannah Sipos.
Land O'Lakes challenged in the fourth when Ashley Smith tripled to right yet with one out, Callie Turner lined out to Melissa Rini at short who flipped to Sipos at third to end the inning.
American Heritage then broke things open with three runs on two outs in the sixth and another in the seventh.
"Their pitcher was lights out early and so was Madison so it was just a matter of breaking the ice,'' said Marty Cooper, who has won six state titles -- third-best in the state -- in 13 years at Heritage.
"We put a little shake into them and it gave us a big lift. We had some clutch hits, Hannah battled and battled to get the first run. We had some timely hitting which was good. Last year, the team that beat us got a hit in the sixth. This year, we're getting the timely hits which is good.''
▪ Class 8A semifinal -- Clearwater Countryside 2, St. Thomas Aquinas 0: The Cougars had Aquinas in major-league jams in the third, fourth and fifth innings with the Raiders escaping.
They wouldn't survive the sixth.
Countryside scored twice after stranding eight runners in the previous three innings to move on Saturday's championship game against Bartow.
The Raiders end their season 22-5.
"It's very disappointing,'' said Aquinas coach Bryan Baucom, whose team was trying to win their third state championship in the past four seasons.
"We had a group of seniors who came here four times, won it the first two times, then went out in the same round the last two trips."
Aquinas had a few chances to take the initial lead only errors on the basepaths were costly.
In the fourth, the Raiders had a runner doubled-up off second on a fly ball to left; in the fifth, another was caught in a rundown between third and home.
Friday’s Semifinals Results
Class 5A — Bayshore (Bradenton) 5, Baker County (Glen St. Mary) 1. Coral Springs Charter 6, South Sumter 0. Class 6A — Arnold (Panama City Beach) 8, Auburndale 7. American Heritage (Plantation) 5, Land O' Lakes 0. Class 9A — West Orange (Winter Garden) 11, Western (Davie) 0. Class 7A — Gainesville 4, Braden River (Bradenton) 0. South Fork (Stuart) 3, Lake Region (Eagle Lake) 0. Class 8A — Bartow 12, Strawberry Crest (Dover) 2. Class 8A — Countryside (Clearwater) 2, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale) 0. Class 9A — West Orange (Winter Garden) 11, Western (Davie) 0.
Saturday’s Finals Games
Class 5A — Coral Springs Charter vs. Bayshore (Bradenton), 10:05 a.m. Class 6A — American Heritage (Plantation) vs. Arnold (Panama City Beach), 12:35. Class 7A — Lake Region (Eagle Lake) vs. Gainesville, 3:05. Class 8A — Countryside (Clearwater) vs. Bartow, 5:35. Class 9A — TBD vs. West Orange (Winter Garden), 8:05.