Allison Muraskin said she only felt nervous in the pitching circle two or three times this season.
Saturday afternoon was one of those occasions with Coral Springs Charter’s lead and an unbeaten state championship season in jeopardy.
Two fly ball outs later, jubilation was the only thing the Panthers were feeling as they wrapped up a 3-1 win over Callahan West Nassau in the Class 4A final that secured their first state softball championship and their school’s first team title in any sport.
“I know before the season we had a chance to contend for a state title, but you never know what can happen with injuries or other issues,” Coral Springs Charter coach Mark Montimurro said. “For this group to do this is really unbelievable.”
West Nassau put the tying runs in scoring position on first baseman Amelia Olive’s one-out double in the top of the seventh. Muraskin composed herself and induced second baseman Emily Dixon and shortstop Kacie Kelly to fly out consecutively to end the game.
“I was a little nervous there at the end, but I’ve been in that situation before so I didn’t let it get to me,” Muraskin said. “It hasn’t sunk in yet [that we’re state champs], but it will soon.”
Coral Springs Charter (29-0-1) completed its first unbeaten season and Muraskin, a sophomore and early UCF commitment, finished 27-0. She gave up one run on three hits, walked three and struck out seven. For the season, she finished with 293 strikeouts and a 0.49 ERA.
Montimurro won his third state championship as a coach 11 years after guiding Hollywood Christian to back-to-back state titles in 2003-04. Montimurro arrived at Coral Springs Charter in 2013 after stints at Douglas, Taravella and University School that followed his successful tenure at Hollywood Christian. He guided the Panthers to the regional playoffs the past two seasons.
With Muraskin returning and only two seniors on the roster, Montimurro thinks this team has the look of a perennial state championship team.
“Ally coming in completed the puzzle for us,” Montimurro said. “We had all the pieces there and she kind of pushed us across the finish line. If she continues her commitment, the sky is the limit and the sky’s the limit for this team.”
West Nassau (18-14) put together its biggest threat in the sixth with Charter leading 3-0. After the first two runners reached base, Muraskin settled down with back-to-back strikeouts. The Warriors, however, scored their lone run in the when Kelly stole home with two outs. Muraskin didn’t let it go further by striking out first baseman Mackenzie Gray.
“We played six home games only this season and 23 road games and we did for a reason,” Montimurro said. “The hardest thing to do is to get those final three outs on a foreign field. That got us ready for moments like today.”
As it did throughout the playoffs, Coral Springs Charter’s aggressive base running helped manufacture runs and produce an early lead.
Charter left fielder Casey Huber, a Missouri commit, drew a walk in the bottom of the first with one out. Designated player Lindsay Garcia bunted and reached on a throwing error by West Nassau pitcher Ariel McCullough.
With runners on second and third, a ground ball by shortstop Skylar Fairchild was fielded quickly by McCullough, who threw to the plate to retire Huber. On the play, Fairchild tried advancing to second giving Garcia a chance to dart for the plate to try and score. Worried about preventing the run, the Warriors threw the ball away at first allowing Garcia to score the game’s first run.
In the second, center fielder Megan Ashworth singled home right fielder Amanda Flynn to give Charter a 2-0 lead. Flynn had doubled with one out. Fairchild’s single in the fifth added a run when third baseman Kayla Scaperrotta came around to score.
"I can’t even explain how happy I am because I’ve been waiting for this for four years," Scaperrotta said. "Time after time we always had each other’s back."
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WP: Allison Muraskin (27-0). LP: Ariel McCullough (15-14).