VERO BEACH — The only drama in Wednesday’s Class 2A state semifinal centered on how quickly Canterbury could get out of the midday sun and into another state championship game.
The Crusaders exploded for six runs in the first inning and coasted to a 15-1 win over Sarasota Christian in five innings at Historic Dodgertown. Canterbury (18-6) advanced to its fourth state title game since 2009 and will vie for a second straight state championship in today’s 1:35 p.m. showdown with Aucilla Christian.
“The entire season we’ve been playing great teams,” pitcher Kama Woodall said. “So we used that to learn how to be great.”
And if Wednesday’s blowout is any indication, Canterbury should have no problem cementing its status as a great program by securing its third state championship in the last four years. The Crusaders have outscored opponents 41-1 in four playoff games.
Canterbury piled on early when leadoff hitter Lindsay Graves reached first on one of Sarasota Christian’s four errors. The Crusaders followed with three consecutive singles to take a 3-0 lead. The game never got any closer.
“We came out strong from the beginning and stayed strong all game,” Crusaders coach Jody Moore said.
Canterbury added three runs in the second and two on homers in the third. Taylor Bump stretched a hit to centerfield into an inside-the-park homer that was officially ruled a triple and an error. Catcher Danielle Romanello followed with an even longer blast — an 0-2 changeup she rocketed 240 feet into right-centerfield. That home run was her eighth of the season and the fifth in her last six games.
“I wasn’t really expecting it to go over,” said Romanello, who finished 4-for-4 with four RBIs and a triple.
Sarasota Christian’s only flurry of hope came in the top of the fourth, when Cheyenne Miller doubled and scored on a hit by sixth grader Mckenzie Clark. It was the first run Canterbury had allowed in the playoffs.
But Woodall escaped the inning unscathed after that to continue the rout. She allowed only two hits and no walks, struck out 12 batters and threw 47 of her 60 pitches for strikes.
Seven Crusaders batted in runs, and Bump was also perfect at the plate (4-for-4 with two RBIs, two triples).
“They’re ranked No. 1 in the state for a reason,” Blazers coach Dallas Miller said.