CCHS rallies to give Russo 200th win

Central Catholic head softball coach Joe Russo picked up his 200th win Saturday when his squad rallied in the bottom of the fifth inning for four runs in a 4-3 victory against E.D. White Saturday in Bayou Vista. Above, Russo receives a celebratory shower following the game while members of the team look on. (The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)

Central Catholic’s Kimberly Russo heads for home past her father, head coach Joe Russo, on her way to score the winning run during Saturday’s 4-3 win against E.D. White Saturday in Bayou Vista. With the win, Russo collected his 200th win in his 14-year career. (The Daily Review/Geoff Stoute)

I’m humbled because I didn’t tell my team anything about this. Obviously, they found out.

As the Central Catholic Lady Eagles were warming up in the top of the seventh inning in the field Saturday and E.D. White was preparing to bat, recording artist Aloe Blacc’s song “The Man” played over a sound system at the field.
Whether intentional or not, after three strikeouts by Central Catholic pitcher Megan Landry in the inning, Central Catholic head coach Joe Russo was celebrated as “The Man” as the Central Catholic Lady Eagles gave their skipper his 200th win in his coaching career with a 4-3 come-from-behind win against E.D. White Saturday.
Russo, who is in his 14th year of coaching (11 at Patterson High and three at Central Catholic), said that he never wanted the day to be about him.
“I’m humbled because I didn’t tell my team anything about this. Obviously, they found out,” he said.
The moment also was an emotional one for Russo, as it came one day after the seventh year anniversary death of his father, Joe Russo Jr.
“He’d have been here for these girls, and it just means a lot to me,” an emotional Russo said.
Russo’s two daughters, Kimberly and Kelly, also are members of the team.
Central Catholic trailed 3-0 entering the bottom of the fifth inning after E.D. White had scored two runs in the top of the third inning via a two-run home run by Kali Clement, while the junior Spring Hill verbal commitment nearly went yard again in the top of the fifth with a line-drive double off the wall scored teammate Emily Sauce.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Lady Eagles began what proved to be the game-winning rally.
With one out, freshman Hallie Autin tripled to the wall, scoring Brooke Lipari and Paige Thomas. However, on a throwback to the infield from behind the plate by E.D. White, the ball went into shallow leftfield, allowing Autin to score and knot the game at 3.
The game’s next batter, Kimberly Russo, reached on an error when E.D. White’s second baseman covering the bag dropped a throw. She advanced to second on an out one batter later before scoring on Bridgett Swan’s single for the one-run lead.
Kimberly Russo, the team’s starting shortstop, said it “meant a lot” personally to be a part of her dad’s 200th win but it also meant something to the team.
“We wanted it more for him than ourselves,” she said.
E.D. White coach Linda Sanders said her squad played well but agreed the bottom of the fifth inning hurt them.
Landry, who allowed just four hits in the contest, allowed a single in the sixth and struck out five of the next seven batters to secure the win.
Landry earned the win for the Lady Eagles. In seven innings, she surrendered three runs — one earned — on four hits with one hit batter and fanned 13.
Swan led the Lady Eagles with a 2-for-3 performance with a double and an RBI, while Autin was 1-for-2 with a triple, two RBIs and a run.
“We’ve been getting a good team effort,” Coach Russo said. “Megan’s solid on the mound. She’s seasoned. … She threw hard. (Elizabeth) Garber does her job behind the plate. The defense is behind Megan when the ball does come into play, so we hit the ball hard today and they made some good plays on us.”
Central Catholic (17-3) will return to District 7-1A action today when it hosts Vermilion Catholic in a 5 p.m. contest.

By GEOFF STOUTE gstoute@daily-review.com

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