Ally Muraskin rarely gives up home runs.
And when she does, it seems to make her stronger.
Luckily for Muraskin and Coral Springs Charter’s softball team, the solo blast came after the Panthers had done enough damage of their own in a 3-1 victory over host Gulliver in the Region 4-5A final.
The Panthers (29-1), who are ranked No. 5 nationally by MaxPreps, advanced to the state finals for the third consecutive season.
Coral Springs Charter will continue its bid to become Broward County’s first team to win three state titles in a row next Friday when it takes on either Baker County or Walton in a Class 5A state semifinal at 8:35 a.m. at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach.
“I hate giving up home runs because I feel like I let my teammates down,” Muraskin said. “I slipped, made a mistake and she hit it. Hey, hats off to her. But I came back and said we’re not sinking after this.”
Muraskin struck out 13 with 12 of those coming after she surrendered a solo home run in the second inning to Gulliver catcher Cici Castillo. It was only the sixth run allowed this season by Muraskin, a UCF signee and MaxPreps All-American candidate, in 148 innings pitched.
Muraskin put a stop to the damage quickly in that inning, striking out the side.
“It’s really starting to sink in for Ally that she’s got two games left, hopefully, and she wants to go out as the most-celebrated pitcher in Broward County history,” Coral Springs Charter coach Mark Montimurro said. “With two more performances she’s capable of it could happen. When times get tough she really bears down.”
Gulliver’s own ace Lilly Barlow entered Friday’s game having not allowed a run in four playoff games (28 innings).
Coral Springs Charter ended that streak quickly in the first when shortstop Lindsey Garcia hit a double to left field that scored first baseman Sara Berthiaumme.
Charter led off the second with back-to-back singles by Muraskin and right fielder Alyssa Leboy. A sacrifice bunt by Kiara Meikle put runners at second and third with two outs for center fielder Amanda Flynn.
After fouling off a couple of pitches, Flynn delivered the big blow that gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead over Gulliver (18-7) when she roped a double to left.
Despite Muraskin piling up strikeouts, the Raiders, who were eliminated by Charter for the third consecutive season in the regional finals, didn’t go away quietly.
Gulliver put runners on base in four of the final five innings. But each time, Muraskin pitched her way out of trouble.
“This is a game where little things can hurt you,” Gulliver coach Mark Schusterman said. “We’re a young team, but we didn’t quit and I couldn’t be prouder.”