Danielle Amato technically is the No. 2 pitcher for Coronado’s softball team.
On Tuesday, the Cougar freshman looked the part of an ace for almost any team.
Pressed into double duty due to an injury to staff ace Lee Harrison, Amato responded with a pair of gems. The youngster tossed four shutout innings in the Cougars’ final pool game, then fired a six-hitter to help Coronado (23-2) to a 6-1 win over Monte Vista (Calif.) in the Black Division championship game of the Charger Invitational at Big League Dreams.
“She really came through for us,” Coronado coach Missy Krueger said of Amato. “We had to rely on her. Not bad for a freshman.”
Amato threw 20 innings in four games in the two-day tournament and allowed just one run — in the title game.
Harrison injured her foot running the bases Monday and played third base in both of Coronado’s games on Tuesday.
“(Amato) hasn’t pitched this much for us this year. We’ve relied on Lee,” Krueger said. “She got four out of five wins for us, and that’s huge for us. The girls know that if we have to make a change in the middle of the game, that there is another pitcher.”
Against Monte Vista in the title game, Amato allowed only one runner to safely advance past second, striking out two and getting 10 ground-ball outs in a game that was called in the sixth inning due to the tournament’s time limit.
The lone mistake the freshman made was on a 1-1 pitch to Monte Vista’s Megan Sears, who crushed the ball over the left-field fence to start the fourth inning.
Amato gave up a pair of singles later in the inning, but worked out of the jam holding a 2-1 lead.
Coronado’s usually potent offense finally gave its pitcher some breathing room with three runs in the fifth on Katie Cochran’s RBI double and a pair of Monarch errors. The Cougars tacked on a run in the sixth when Morgan Yuhas’ sacrifice fly plated Amanda Garrison.
“It was the combination of a long two days of sitting around and waiting in the heat and humidity, and I think they needed a wake-up call,” Krueger said of the slow start on offense. “That home run was kind of a wake-up call. We were a little flat, but we got pumped up.”
The Cougars grabbed a 2-0 lead on two unearned runs in the second inning. Emily Hendrix scored on a two-out throwing error and Garrison’s infield hit brought in Kim Dawson.
Cochran finished 2-for-3 with two doubles, a run and an RBI, and Yuhas was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI for the Cougars.
Coronado 4, Mar Vista (Calif.) 0 — Amato and Kendell Sauter combined on a one-hitter to propel the Cougars into the Black Division title game.
Cochran had two hits and drove in a run.
Liberty 3, Hilltop (Calif.) 0 — Sara Neiman tossed a five-hitter as the Patriots secured fifth place in the Gold Division — and the best local finish.
Brittany Huff’s two-run double in the third inning allowed the Patriots to take the lead for good.
Liberty 5, Durango 4 — Francesca Foti, reinserted into the game despite a sore Achilles’ tendon, slapped a game-winning two-run single in the fifth as the Patriots nipped the Trailblazers.
Huff had three hits and scored twice for the Patriots, who erased a 4-1 deficit.
Durango 3, Cimarron-Memorial 2 — Alyssa Martinez’s sliding catch preserved a one-run win for the Trailblazers.
Durango built a 3-0 lead on an RBI double by Kendal Short and a two-run triple by Samantha Juarez, but the Spartans scored a run each in the fourth and fifth inning.
Hilltop (Calif.) 7, Cimarron-Memorial 0 — The Lancers jumped on Cimarron starter Alexa Snyder for six runs in the first inning and cruised to the win.
The Spartans managed only four hits, all singles.
Banning (Calif.) 4, Las Vegas 3 — The Broncos pushed a run across in the bottom of the sixth inning to edge the Wildcats.
Taylor Price and Jenice Gutierrez each went 2-for-2 for the Wildcats. Gutierrez drove in two of Vegas’ three runs.
El Capitan (Calif.) 10, Las Vegas 2 — The Wildcats outhit the Vaqueros, 11-3, but couldn’t overcome six errors.
Jayme Cooley was 2-for-2 for the Wildcats.
Desert Oasis 8, Green Valley 7 — The Diamondbacks erased an early four-run deficit with eight runs and held on to down the Gators.
Trailing 4-0, Desert Oasis scored three runs in the second and five more in the third. Lenzi Cram homered for the Diamondbacks.
Green Valley pulled to within a run on Fenixx Henderson’s two-run homer in the fifth.
Clark 6, North Hollywood (Calif.) 2 — Julia Hagen tossed a two-hitter as the Chargers cruised to the victory.
Hagen struck out seven.
Anna Jaehn drove in three runs for the Chargers.
Desert Oasis 8, North Hollywood (Calif.) 0 — Cram’s two-run homer highlighted a five-run sixth as the Diamondbacks rolled to the victory.
Cram tossed a one-hitter with nine strikeouts, and Desert Oasis made the most of three hits.
Green Valley 7, Clark 4 — The Gators broke open a tie game with a four-run fourth to down the Chargers.
Doubles from Shelby Vickers and Chelsea Anderson, and an RBI single from Alyssa Ingel gave Green Valley the lead for good.
Mater Dei (Calif.) 11, Tech 3 — The Crusaders scored four runs in the first two innings and never looked back in cruising past the Roadrunners.
Casandra Bosse went 2-for-2 and scored a run for Tech.
Tech 3, Mar Vista (Calif.) 0 — Amanda Roark tossed a two-hitter to help the Roadrunners blank the Mariners.
The Roadrunners did all their scoring in the fourth, thanks to Austyn Dziewit’s single, a fielder’s choice and a Mar Vista throwing error.
Birmingham (Calif.) 5, Valley 4 — In the second longest game of the tournament, the Patriots pushed a run across in the ninth inning to slip past the Vikings.
Mickayla Romero had a pair of doubles to lead Valley.
Valley 17, Mater Dei (Calif.) 6 — Valley quickly bounced back from the tough nine-inning loss with 17 runs in the first two innings against Mater Dei.
Romero had two doubles for the Vikings.
Monte Vista (Calif.) 4, Eldorado 3 — Emma Demars had two hits, including the game-winning single in the Lions’ win over the Sundevils.
Eldorado pitcher Ashley Jarzombek had two of her team’s three hits, and also scattered seven hits.
Brawley Union (Calif.) 12, Eldorado 2 — Eldorado committed seven errors which led to 10 unearned runs for Brawley Union.
Brawley broke the game open with a seven-run second inning.