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Saugus softball puts itself in good position for playoff berth

Centurions beat Canyon 10-1

Posted: May 7, 2013 10:22 p.m.
Updated: May 7, 2013 10:22 p.m.

Saugus' Diana Mendoza (3) is caught in a rundown between Canyon shortstop Tiffany Dyson, left, and catcher Julianna Carlos, right at Canyon High School on Tuesday. Mendoza would score on an error.

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The Saugus Centurions entered the 2013 Foothill League softball season as league title favorites.

On Tuesday afternoon at Canyon High School, the Centurions found themselves in the unfortunate position of simply fighting for a playoff spot in the season’s final week.

Their prospects are much higher now, though, with one win over Golden Valley separating them from the CIF-Southern Section Division I postseason after Tuesday’s 10-1 victory over the Canyon Cowboys.

The win puts Saugus into sole possession of third place, one game up on Hart with one game to play.

The top three teams in the Foothill League earn an automatic spot into the postseason.

“I felt we played like a team today,” said Saugus head coach Julie Watson. “We need to continue to play that way Thursday. We needed to come together as a team.”

The previous matchup between Canyon (14-13 overall, 3-6 Foothill League) and Saugus (19-9, 5-4) this season was tight, with Saugus winning 3-2 on April 18.

Tuesday was no different early on, until Saugus catcher Maddy Jelenicki, who has rarely seen a pitch to hit in Foothill League play, made Canyon pay for pitching to her.

Jelenicki sent a solo home run over the left field wall to break a 1-1 tie in the third inning and open the floodgates for Saugus.

The Centurions opened things up with six runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by a bases-clearing triple to score three runs off the bat of Alyssa Rodriguez.

“We did a lot better as a team (today),” Jelenicki said. “We need to use this game as a stepping stone to Golden Valley and playoffs.”

From there, Saugus starting pitcher Mariah Lopez shut down the Cowboys.

While Saugus is in a good position to earn the Foothill League’s third and final automatic playoff bid heading into Thursday’s regular season finale, Thursday’s loss doesn’t knock Canyon out of the postseason.

The Cowboys play Hart in the Foothill League finale with fourth-place on the line for the second year in a row.

Last season, the Indians prevailed and earned an at-large spot, while Canyon finished fifth and missed out on the postseason.

A Canyon win on Thursday would put it in a fourth-place tie with Hart, and the Cowboys would earn the tiebreaker and the right to apply for an at-large spot by virtue of their above-.500 overall record.

“I feel we do (have a resume worthy of the postseason). We’re in one of the toughest leagues around and we’ve battled,” said Canyon head coach Dwain Whalen.

Hart’s sub-.500 record means it would need to win and have Saugus lose on Thursday to finish in a third-place tie in league to have any chance of making the playoffs.

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