ST. PETERSBURG — With an 11-0 victory over Orlando Christian Prep that lasted five innings because of the mercy rule, Canterbury again turned the Class 2A postseason into its own game of Monopoly, earning its sixth trip to the state semifinals in the past seven seasons.
The Crusaders (21-6), the defending state champions, have held the top spot in the 2A state poll since the season started, in large part by outscoring opponents in their classification by a combined 119-2.
But after beating state-ranked Cambridge Christian and Academy at the Lakes in the first two rounds of the playoffs in games that lasted seven innings, Canterbury had a relatively easy time against Orlando Christian Prep. The district runnerup had advanced to Monday's region final by knocking off defending state finalist Orlando Pine Castle Christian.
It didn't take long for the Crusaders to seize control. In the first inning, Canterbury scored five runs with the big hits coming on a sacrifice bunt that Taylor Bump beat out for a single and a two-run homer by Danielle Romanello.
"This game was rained out last week and we had to wait a few days to play," Romanello said. "We were ready. There was a lot of adrenaline built up for this."
In the second inning, the Crusaders tacked on five more runs.
By then the rout was on.
"The big thing was getting on them early," Canterbury coach Jody Moore said. "Taylor came up with a selfless play by going up there and laying down that bunt in the first inning. That created a lot of momentum.
The runs were more than enough for Kama Woodall, who pitched a one-hit shutout and struck out nine in four innings of work. Woodall allowed just three base runners, two of whom were picked off by Romanello.
Hailey Hopkins relieved Woodall in the fifth and retired the side to end the game. In all, the Crusaders had 11 hits. Bump and Woodall each went 3-for-3.
"We're right where we want to be," Moore said. "But we need to keep doing the things we've always done to get better. This is why we played such a competitive schedule during the season. We just have to keep staying focused, no matter who we play."
• Bloomingdale plated two runs in the top of the first inning, and junior ace Lace Smith overpowered Vero Beach in a 2-1 Class 8A region final.
• In a back-and-forth game where Carrollwood Day trailed by three runs in the fourth inning, the Patriots rallied for a 12-7 victory over Cornerstone Charter.
• Belleview jumped ahead in the first inning, and with an offensive outburst, eventually dispatched Hernando 18-4 in a Class 5A region final.