Pleasant Grove senior catcher Amber Murray says there is no secret why Elk Grove area softball is consistently so strong.
"We have a lot of girls who like to play, good coaching, and we perform well," Murray says.
Eagles coach Chris Murray credits Mary Jo Truesdale, Sheldon's Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame coach for setting a high standard through the years.
"We've all followed her example," says Chris Murray, Amber's father. "Elk Grove teams have that never-give-up attitude. We're going to fight all seven innings."
Tonight, Pleasant Grove will try to become the eighth consecutive D-I section champion from the Elk Grove school district.
Standing in its way is Vintage of Napa, which entered the playoffs undefeated and nationally ranked before falling 3-1 to the Eagles on Monday.
While Pleasant Grove (24-9) beat Bee No. 1 Rocklin 6-4 in Tuesday's winner's bracket game. Vintage (31-1) worked its way back to the finals by topping Elk Grove 10-7 and Rocklin 9-6 in the loser's bracket games.
Pleasant Grove, which won its lone girls section softball title in 2009, enters tonight with the benefit of having to be beaten twice. History also is in its favor.
"We just hope to represent Elk Grove softball the best we can," Chris Murray said. "Right now I like the way we have been playing. We've played well as a team."
All the ingredients were there in the win over Rocklin.
Junior pitcher Celina Matthias struck out nine, allowed six hits and helped her cause with a home run. No. 3 and No. 4 hitters Vanessa Washington and Autum Miller each had three hits.
They also exhibited that famed Elk Grove-area mental toughness when Rocklin, trailing 5-1 entering the sixth, scored three times and had the tying run in scoring position with two outs.
But Matthias won the duel with freshman Carli Cutler, who, after fouling off several pitches, struck out.
"You can see her get that fire in her belly," Amber Murray said of Matthias.
Added Chris Murray, "Celina pitched a hell of a game"
In other highlights:
Haley Snyder struck out 15 and tossed a one-hitter and Christian Brothers scored two runs in the top of the 10th inning on a throwing error and wild pitch to defeat Benicia 3-2 and advance to tonight's 5 p.m. D-II final against Capital Valley Conference rival Casa Roble. CBS and Benicia played to a 1-1 tie through nine innings before going to the international tiebreaker in which a runner starts the inning at second base. Danielle Kranz had Benicia's lone hit, a fifth-inning home run. Synder had two hits for the Falcons.
· Antelope rallied for three runs in the sixth on doubles by Emily Mark, Savannah Johnson and Maddie Skibitzki to beat Capital Athletic League rival Cordova 4-3 and advance to tonight's 5 p.m. D-III final. The Titans will play Pioneer, a 15-4 winner over Cordova.