Wednesday’s highly anticipated match-up of reigning San Diego Section softball champions turned into a disappointing mismatch as the host Bonita Vista Barons (Division II champions) outslugged the Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders (Division IV champions) by a run-rule 11-0 score.
The game ended after five innings.
The 11-0 run-rule decision was the second in a row for the No. 1-ranked Barons, who previously clubbed the visiting Olympian Eagles by that same score last Friday.
Bonita Vista improved to 17-4-1, 7-0 in league, with Wednesday’s win while the fourth-ranked Crusaders dropped to 20-5 overall, 5-2 in league play.
The teams rematch Friday, May 3, at MDCHS, starting at 3 p.m.
The outcome of Wednesday’s high profile encounter served to solidify the Barons’ top perch in the section in the match-up of elite teams.
“You look at Mater Dei Catholic’s record coming into this game and they’re obviously a fine team,” BVHS coach John Carlson said. “I was happy with the outcome (because) they’re a very formidable team.”
The Barons removed any drama from the game early as Alex Vargas cracked a grand slam home run in the first inning and teammate Britanny Wyllie later smacked a bases-loaded triple.
Freshman newcomer Izzy Ortiz, wearing a plastic face mask, recorded the run-rule shutout by allowing three hits and striking out a pair.
MDC frosh starter Kelly White was touched up for 10 hits while issuing three walks and hitting two batters.
Crusader coach Mike Centrullo said it was an uncharacteristically poor outing for White this season.
“It happens,” the MDCHS coach said. “Friday could be a whole different story.”
Wednesday's victory was the 10th consecutive for the Barons, who continue to excel despite losing several key players to graduation off last year's CIF championship squad, including ace pitcher Jennifer Hartmann (now at Sacramento State).
"The season has gone well for us considering we have freshmen all over the place," Carlson said.
Bonita Vista returns nine players off last year's history-making team, including six starters. While veteran leadership remains important, it's been the contributions made by the incoming freshmen who have help buttress the team in its quest to repeat as division champions.
Ortiz improved to 13-1 in the pitching circle following Wednesday's win. She leads the team in inning pitched (96) and earned-run average (2.54).
Another freshman, Aaliyah Jordan, leads the team with 30 RBI.
Sophomore Ashley Quidolit paces the Barons with a .577 hitting average, followed by senior Hannah Flippen (.534) and Vargas (.414). Flippen and Vargas have displayed power on this year's squad with nine doubles, two triples and three home runs each.
Vargas ranks second on the team with 23 RBI, followed by Flippen with 21 RBI, Carolyn Wright (.328 hitting average) with 18 RBI and Wyllie (.283 hitting average) with 13 RBI.
Vargas is 4-2 in the pitching circle with a 2.97 ERA.
Bonita Vista tops the Division II standings with a .795 winning percentage, followed by Point Loma (.750), Rancho Bernardo (.720), Westview (,652), West Hills (.630), Serra (.625), Steele Canyon (.607), Valhalla (.593), Scripps Ranch (.583) and Ramona (.556).
From that group, the Barons already have posted victories this season against Westview (14-5 on April 1) and Rancho Bernardo (8-3 on April 6) while dropping a 6-1 non-league decision to Scripps Ranch on April 4.
Bonita Vista's other losses have come against Temecula Great Oak (3-2 on March 12), Poway (4-3 on March 19) and Carlsbad (10-8 on March 28). The Barons previously tied Carlsbad, 1-1, on March 9.
But it's how the team is performing at the beginning of May that matters most as the section playoffs approach.
"There are some expectations but these are self-motivating," Carlson said. "The consensus is that I don't feel there are any expectations. This is a different team. We lost a core of our experienced players."
The BVHS coach said more will be known following Friday's return match-up against Mater Dei Catholic.
"Our goal right now is to beat them Friday," Carlson said. "I don't look down the rest of the schedule too far. With the team we had last year we could talk about ultimate goals, such as winning a CIF title, but with a younger team we realize we have to be realistic about setting goals."
The Crusaders have been hit hard by graduation in the experience department as well, with star pitcher Maritza Lopez-Portillo now at North Dakota State.
Junior Lindsey Finch leads this year's team with a .500 hitting average, followed by senior Avery Finch (.455), junior Amanda Hernandez (.423), sophomore Reyna Jamison (.404), sophomore Amanda Idiaquez (.381) and senior Skania Lemus (.375).
Senior Taylor Cruse (.257 hitting average) leads the team with 20 RBI and nine doubles, followed by Lemus with 17 RBI and six doubles and Lindsey Finch with 16 RBI and six two-baggers. Both Cruse and Lemus have slammed two homers.
"We usually have more success but it seems that Bonita somehow gets into our heads, but then Bonita gets into the heads of a lot of people — they're No.l 1 in the county for a good reason," Centrullo said.
Mater Dei Catholic is riding a streak of three consecutive CIF titles; this is Centrollo's 14th year with the team.
"We obviously would like to make it four in a row," the Crusader coach said. "We're 20-5 and that's something to think about. What helps us in league playing teams like Bonita from higher enrollment divisions is that it forces us to play better. Were toughened up for anything we'll face in the playoffs."