Coral Springs Charter wins third straight State softball championship
On the back of the Coral Springs Charter T-shirts read the simple phrase “Chasing History.”
Consider it caught.
On Saturday morning, the Panthers became the first softball team from Broward County to win three consecutive state championships with a dramatic come-from-behind 2-1 win over Eustis in the Class 5A title game.
“Of all the great teams Broward County has seen, no one had done this before,” coach Mark Montimurro told his players after the trophy and medals were handed out. “Do you know how impressive that is?”
When the final out was complete, two of the constants over this dominant three-year run — ace pitcher Ally Muraskin and catcher Gianna Boccagno — embraced with Muraskin in tears.
The Panthers (30-1) would not have been here without either of them.
Next year, Muraskin will be at UCF in Orlando; her batterymate and friend is a junior who will return to Charter before going off to Boston College.
“It is just amazing for us to come back and win this way on our way out,” said Muraskin, whose final high school game was a gem befitting her dominant career as she allowed three hits and struck out five.
“We knew the sixth would be the inning where we won it. I savored that last inning, knowing it would be my last with these great teammates. I so wanted it to go this way.”
Said Boccagno: “We have been teammates on our travel team and here for the past three years. It has been amazing. She doesn’t give me much to do, only the occasional base runner to throw out. It’s a simple game of catch between us.”
Upstart Eustis, a one-loss team coming in that definitely had Montimurro’s attention, took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on an fielding error in the infield.
Eustis, with only one senior in the starting lineup, didn’t score again.
Charter had plenty of problems with Eustis pitcher Delany Heaberlin and struggled to get the ball out of the infield.
The Panthers stranded runners in the second, fourth and fifth innings and ran themselves out of the third.
Then came the sixth.
Amanda Flynn led off by reaching on an infield shot Eustis’ third baseman couldn’t handle, then stole second. With one out, Shannon Doherty smashed a shot off Heaberlin that put runners on the corners.
A perfect bunt from Lindsey Garcia, which stayed fair just feet out of the box, tied the score as Flynn sprinted in.
Muraskin made the second out of the inning with a fly to right, leaving the heroics to Boccagno.
“I had been struggling a lot at the plate lately,” she said not long after her hard shot through the infield gap between third and short scored Doherty with the game-winning run.
“I knew that was probably going to be my last at bat, so I relaxed, didn’t try to crush it. I didn’t want to hit a bomb, just get a run home so we could win this. There was some concern being down since the first inning, but there was no doubt in us. We knew we could win. And to do so was amazing.”
Muraskin finished things off, knowing she had a lead and six outs to go. She put Eustis down in order in both the sixth and seventh.
“It’s tough coming from behind, especially against a hot team like that,” said Montimurro, who has won five state titles after winning back-to-back crowns at Hollywood Christian in 2003-04.
“I think we have the best battery in Broward, and they carried this to Vero for three consecutive years. They know what to throw and when to throw it. That’s teamwork and seeing their hard work come to fruition.
“It has been a great ride.”