Mater Dei inspired by young ‘survivor’

By Kevin J. Farmer, Special to the U-T 10:59 p.m.May 25, 2013

Mater Dei Catholic 2, Valley Center 0

They did it for a lot of reasons — but most importantly, they did it.

Inspired by their 11-year-old “survivor,” Carli Gastineau, Mater Dei Catholic captured its fourth straight San Diego Section Division IV softball title by downing Valley Center 2-0 on Saturday at UC San Diego.

“The first couple (titles) were for someone that passed away; this one we were playing for someone right here with us,” said Mater Dei coach Mike Centrullo. “Our inspiration was right in the dugout.”

Before the season the Crusaders “adopted” Gastineau, a Make-A-Wish child who has survived 11 surgeries and twice her parents were told not to expect her to live through the night.

With inspiration like that, Mater Dei pitchers Alexis Morales and Kellie White finished the season by throwing 37 scoreless innings, including outscoring playoff opponents 7-0.

They combined for a three-hit shutout in the finals. Hana Gilbert got all three hits for the fourth-seeded Jaguars.

The No. 3 Crusaders (25-7) took the lead in the third inning when Avery Finch scored on a controversial illegal pitch.

Finch, along with Kimberly Tamayo and Taylor Cruse, celebrated their fourth title as varsity starters.

“Carli made the difference this year,” said Cruse. “Her example made us work even harder.”