For the third time this season, the Stars would defeat host St. Anthony of Long Beach, 2-0 to grab complete control of the Camino Real League championship picture with three games remaining. It's also the second time Mary Star was victorious over the defending CIF-Southern Section Division 6 champions at Pan American Park in Long Beach.
Sure, most of the credit will go to sophomore pitcher Ale Samperio, but she will be one of the first to tell you this was a true team effort for Mary Star (14-7 overall, 9-1 league) to post a second straight shutout against a high-powered Saints team.
The Stars wasted little time in jumping on the scoreboard first.
Sophomore right fielder Sarah Leyba led off the inning with a walk, then after consecutive groundouts by senior third baseman Miranda Marquez and sophomore shortstop Ashley Rico, sophomore catcher Sofia Amalfitano hits a high chopper just over the outstretched glove of St. Anthony sophomore pitcher Tiare Jennings, then Leyba would score as neither the Saints' second baseman Thessa Malau'ulu or shortstop Jaelene Kapu could come up with the ball.
Samperio's pitching and clutch defensive plays by freshman second baseman Ari Bautista and freshman center fielder Lexi Buscemi would keep the Stars in the lead through the next five innings. Jennings, who struck out five for St. Anthony, didn't surrender another Mary Star hit and only allowed two Star base runners (by walk or an error) before she was relieved by sophomore Brooke Townsend in the sixth inning.
Malau'ulu was 3-for-3 for St. Anthony (6-16, 4-4) but was never able to score, but the Saints had their best opportunity in the bottom of the sixth inning with two outs. A fielding miscue by Marquez put two runners in scoring position, but the next batter squeezed a ground ball underneath the legs of Mary Star junior first baseman Rose Amalfitano.
In came Bautista to run down the ball and somehow fire to Amalfitano at first for the inning-ending out, erasing what would have been the game-tying run.
Once the seventh inning started, Samperio had enough.
On the first pitch from Townsend, Samperio would blast a scorching line drive down the left field line just past the left fielder's reach, and it traveled far enough down the Pan American Park for Samperio to touch all the bases without a throw even reaching the cut-off for a game-breaking solo home run, the final run of the game to boot. After issuing a leadoff walk, Samperio induced two straight comebackers, the second being a game-ending 1-6-3 double play.
Samperio would finish with a three-hit shutout, walking two and striking out ten for the complete game shutout.
Mary Star will next play Cantwell Sacred Heart of Montebello on the road Thursday, and two home games against Pomona Catholic and Bishop Montgomery in the final week of the regular season to start the month of May.