When Mike Monzo took over the softball program at Cornerstone Christian High, he theorized that a beefed up nonleague schedule would make for better success in the playoffs.
In only his second season with the Eagles, Monzo's theory has become reality.
Cornerstone Christian (21-3) will face Lone Pine (19-6-1) in the Southern Section Division VI final today at 4:30 p.m. at Mayfair Park in Lakewood.
The Eagles played 18 of their 24 games this season against teams from higher divisions. And while their losses came against larger schools--Bishop, Bishop Diego and Montclair Prep--the Eagles lost those games by a combined five runs.
"Our girls can hang in there with the bigger schools," Monzo said. "When you get into the playoffs, it makes a big difference."
Top-seeded Cornerstone Christian, with an enrollment of about 84, boasts a lineup of four players batting better than .500: Julia Tamai (.591), Tiffanie Monzo (.552), Karri Becker (.547) and Shannon Brown (.507).
"They've proved they can hit the ball and hit it hard," Monzo said.
The Eagles defeated No. 2-seeded Lone Pine, 5-2, in the second game of the year for each team.
A quarterfinal matchup last year was much different, but with the same result.
Cornerstone Christian scored the game's only run when Lone Pine's center fielder dropped a fly ball with two out in the bottom of the seventh.
Each school is playing for its first softball title, but Cornerstone Christian appears to have the edge--and the momentum. The Eagles have won 13 in a row.
"They want to win it for the seniors, bottom line," Monzo said.