Monzo's Blueprint for Playoff Success Becomes Cornerstone

TIMES STAFF WRITER

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.

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