Editor's note: Reprinted from original story May 15. This story was on an older version of West Valley Preps and was not available in our archive.
When Morgan Montemayor joined Centennial she had one goal in mind.
”On her first day on the team as a freshman she walked up to me and said we’d win a championship before she graduates,” said Centennial softball coach Bartt Underwood. “I reminded her of that tonight.”
Her words proved prophetic when catcher Paige Tonz picked off Amanda Spradling at second to seal the school’s first softball championship — a 5-1 win against No. 6 seed Sunnyside May 14 at Rose Mofford Sports Complex.
The University of Georgia-bound pitcher leaves Cenennial with an arsenal of records, including ERA, strikeouts and wins. But she wouldn’t have made her mark on the school’s record books had Centennial gone to a two-man pitching rotation. Instead Underwood went with Montemayor the entire season and the decision paid dividends.
”She came into this season more conditioned this year to handle the work load,” Underwood said. “But the only way it would work is if she told me, ‘coach I can’t go.’ She had to be honest with us and we had to have the confidence in her.”
With his ace going, Underwood said this was probably the team’s best shot to win a championship. The Coyotes have reached the 5A-II and 4A state finals four times in the last seven years and came away with the runner- up trophy each time.
So, with so many factors pointing toward the Coyotes ending the drought, Underwood said it was tough to stay emotionally in control when all he wanted to do was yell and scream.
”I thought about (winning) in the fourth inning, but every time that popped in my mind I tried to push it out of my head,” Underwood said. “Instead, I kept yelling words of encouragement to the girls just to not be emotional.”
Top-seeded Centennial (33-5) had plenty to yell and scream about early as they touched Sunnyside pitcher Estela Pinon for a pair of runs in the first. Catcher Paige Tonz and shortstop Krystal Garcia reached on a single and ground rule double and sophomore Abigail Beasley knocked them in with a single to left.
The Blue Devils scored one in the second but Centennial pushed the lead back to two in the third when senior Samantha Riojas drove a 1-and-2 pitch from Pinon over the center field fence.
”I thought she’d go outside because that’s what she struck me out on in my first at bat,” Riojas said. “I wasn’t really expecting it to go out because I had to wait on the pitch and was kind of on my front foot. I had to use my arms to drive it.”
Centennial pushed its lead to 4-1 in the fourth with Navarro scoring on Tonz’s two-out single to left, and tacked on another run in the fifth as Beasley came in on designated player Samantha Munoz’s bloop hit to center.
Montemayor allowed five hits and struck out eight, but the hardest out was that last one, Tonz said.
”That last out was tough,” Tonz said. “We were hoping to get it with every pitch, and when it didn’t come we had to gear up and go at the hitter again. But we felt when we got four or five runs we had a real chance and Mo gained more confidence as the game went on.”