All of the pieces fell into place for this to be the season we can put the spotlight on the coach of record at Mater Dei Catholic of Chula Vista since the school opened in 2007 and before that at Marian Catholic back to 1999. Centrullo now has nine CIF San Diego Section titles on his ledger. And like our State Baseball Coach of the Year, he won his 300th career game in 2019 with No. 400 not far away.
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In some ways, the 2022 softball season at Mater Dei Catholic was a step backward as the Crusaders had some struggles in their league and were not even able to defend the CIF San Diego Section Open Division title that they won in 2021 as they played in Division I.
But it all ended the same way it did as in 2021 and in 2019 (no playoffs in 2020 obviously due to pandemic). Head coach Mike Centrullo’s squad celebrated winning a title. This time, it was the CIF Southern California D2 regional championship following a 15-9 triumph over Torrance. And now, with a CIF regional title added on to all of the other championships that Centrullo’s teams have won during his 22 years of coaching, it’s time to add the top coaching accolade in the state as the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year.
Before going further, Centrullo has been co-coach of the MD Catholic team this season with his wife, Liz, a former player at Hilltop (Chula Vista) who also played in the College World Series for Oklahoma State. This honor is of course partly for her, but we have never had co-coaches as a State Coach of the Year. Plus, there is no such thing as half of a coaching win and it’s not two coaching wins for one game, either. Mike is still considered the coach of record at the school and gets the coaching wins. The school would have to let the record keepers know if that ever changes and wants the other co-coach to get the win.
Centrullo was strongly considered by himself to be State Coach of the Year more than once in the last few years. By the Crusaders winning another championship, this just became the year to get him onto the all-time list.
It took a wild 13-12 victory over Cathedral Catholic of San Diego for Mater Dei Catholic to win the D1 section title, which was the ninth since Centrullo began coaching at Marian Catholic in 1999. The Crusaders then won the D2 regional title by defeating Del Norte of San Diego (which was a finalist in the section Open Division playoffs), 5-3, and then Tesoro of Las Flores, 2-0 in 10 innings, and finally Torrance, 15-9 in eight innings.
Although the team’s final record of 22-11 wasn’t among the best in Centrullo’s career, the strong finish did come after the 2021 team went 26-2, won the Open Division section title and was among the top 10 teams in the state. That team didn’t win a regional title because it opted out of those playoffs. The 2021 team also came on the heels of an even stronger group in 2020 that also won the Open Division section title and was near the top of the state rankings with a 31-4 record. UCLA recruits Alyssa Garcia and Lexi Sosa led the way.
The back-to-back section titles in 2020 and 2021 was not even close to a record at Mater Dei Catholic, either. Centrullo’s teams at the school from 2010 to 2013 captured four straight section titles in Division IV. He also had a 24-8 team in 2017 that went to the Open Division semifinals and a 24-8-1 squad in 2015.
One coach that Centrullo faced many times in the early years of his coaching career, Margaret Mauro of Cathedral Catholic (now retired), is the last State Coach of the Year from the San Diego Section. Her year was 2014. The only other honorees on the list are Brad Griffith of Mira Mesa for 2002, Nancy Acerrio from Hilltop of Chula Vista for 1996, Jeff Carlovsky of Escondido for 1992, Carol Hamilton of Madison for 1983 and Janet Balsley of Hilltop for 1976.
Centrullo has been reported as winning the 300th game of his career during the 2019 season, but we don’t yet know the exact date. That was the same season when the Crusaders finished 31-4. They had a couple of wins during the pandemic season, added 26 more in 2021 and 22 more in 2022.
Another factor that helped in Centrullo becoming the honoree for this year is that several others who were coaching teams deep into the the D1 regional playoffs have already been State Coach of the Year. This includes both SoCal D1 coaching finalists — Pete Ackermann of Oaks Christian and Mike Smith of Eastvale Roosevelt (chosen for when he was at Chino High) — plus NorCal D1 finalist Mike Noel of Clovis. It is the longstanding policy for the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year honors that no one gets the honor more than once. One coach for each year is featured and goes onto the all-time list. This is California, after all, and there has never been a year when that policy has been a problem.
With Centrullo, however, him getting it this time wouldn’t preclude a certain co-coach that he knows very well from someday doing the same thing.
All-Time List Cal-Hi Sports
State Softball Coaches Of The Year
2022 – Mike Centrullo,
Chula Vista Mater Dei Catholic (22-11)
2021 – Ed Tunstall, Anaheim Esperanza (22-2*)
2020 – No selection (pandemic)
2019 – Matt Sweeney, Pleasanton Foothill (28-0)
2018 – Teresa Mayes-Borchard,
Pleasanton Amador Valley (23-5-1)
2017 – Mike Noel, Clovis (25-6)
2016 – Judy Shaubach, Madera (26-7)
2015 – Margaret Neill, Lancaster Paraclete (27-4)
2014 – Margaret Mauro,
San Diego Cathedral Catholic (29-3)
2013 – Mike Smith, Chino (26-2)
2012 – Rick Robinson, Norco (30-2)
2011 – Scott Smith, Hollister San Benito (29-1)
2010 – Teri Johnson, Union City James Logan
2009 – Tony Dobra, San Pedro (28-4)
2008 – Duane Zauner,
Lake of the Pines Bear River (29-3)
2007 – Mary Jo Truesdale, Sacramento Sheldon (29-1)
2006 – John Perez, Corona Santiago (26-5)
2005 – Art Banks, Roseville Woodcreek (28-6)
2004 – Pete Ackermann, Westlake Village Oaks Christian (34-1)
2003 – Rob Weil, Garden Grove Pacifica (31-2)
2002 – Brad Griffith, San Diego Mira Mesa (35-1)
2001 – Gary Walin, Thousand Oaks (24-5)
2000 – Jo Ann Byrd, Corona (28-4)
1999 – Jim Liggett, Belmont Carlmont (35-4)
1998 – Joe Given, Salinas Notre Dame (30-2-1)
1997 – Alan Dugard, Irvine Woodbridge (34-2)
1996 – Nancy Acerrio, Chula Vista Hilltop (27-2)
1995 – Marie Dean, Fremont Washington (27-0)
1994 – Joe Gonzalez, Tustin Foothill (25-7)
1993 – Jill Matyuch, Covina Charter Oak (29-0-1)
1992 – Jeff Carlovsky, Escondido (26-2)
1991 – Kevin Newman, San Jose Gunderson (33-2)
1990 – Susie Calderon, Huntington Beach Marina (28-5)
1989 – Sharon Coggins, Ventura Buena (28-2)
1988 – Rich Kerr, San Lorenzo Arroyo (29-1)
1987 – Bob Regpala, Stockton Lincoln (30-0)
1986 – Dick Barnes, El Monte Arroyo (22-1)
1985 – Neils Ludlow, Woodland Hills El Camino Real (19-0)
1984 – Aaron Ishikawa, Stockton Lincoln (37-1)
1983 – Carol Hamilton, San Diego Madison (23-1)
1982 – Rich Spiekerman, Lodi (29-3)
1981 – Leslie Steffen, Hanford (20-4)
1980 – Bob Bush, Santa Maria Righetti (29-0)
1979 – Barbara Weding, Santa Rosa Montgomery (26-1)
1978 – Peggy Linville, Fairfield Armijo (23-0)
1977 – Betsy Ward, Huntington Beach Marina (17-0)
1976 – Janet Balsley, Chula Vista Hilltop (17-0)
1975 – Sally Carmen, Downey Warren (19-1)
1974 – Sandi Behrmann, El Segundo (undefeated)