Danielle Romanello stepped to the plate in last week's Class 2A state softball championship game and belted a pitch into the right-centerfield gap, the ball rolling nearly to the fence. Teammate Taylor Bump scored, and Danielle hustled to third on the throw home as fans erupted. For Canterbury High School's team, it was a moment to savor. The sixth-inning triple was Danielle's second hit of the game and turned out to be the winner in a 1-0 victory over Aucilla Christian, which gave the Crusaders their third title in four years. That Danielle came through in the clutch was not surprising. Though she is a freshman, the catcher is a veteran considering she has played on varsity since the seventh grade. As an eighth-grader last season, she committed to play at the University of Florida. She got hot at the right time, going a combined 17-of-24 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in her last seven games, a streak that started at the beginning of the district tournament four weeks ago. She recently talked with the Tampa Bay Times about her timely hitting and the thrill of playing for a program on the verge of a dynasty.
1. What sparked the turnaround?
"I think I was more relaxed at the plate, and I had trust knowing that I had great batters around me. All I had to think about was just go out and hit the ball."
2. What made you want to attend Florida, and why did you commit so early?
"That's the team I've always rooted for. Both of my parents went there, and once I had the opportunity, I knew that where I was going. It was a dream come true, even if I have to wait a few more years before I'm there."
3. How well recognized are the softball players at Canterbury after winning two straight titles?
"We're kind of big now. It's known as the Canterbury School of Softball. We had a lot of support from students who (kind of) skipped school to go to Vero Beach for the championship game. The team is somewhat of a cult because we're a small school and we have a lot of girls who play softball. All we want to do is work hard, and our goal every year is to win it all. It feels great."
Bob Putnam, Times staff writer