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State tourney flashback: Alex Santostefano, Austin Prep walked off with fourth straight D3 North softball crown

One game after producing the winning hit against St. Mary's in the D3 North final, Alex Santostefano (left) celebrated after doubling up a Case runner at first with her throw from the right field to secure a 10-7 win in the state semifinals.
One game after producing the winning hit against St. Mary's in the D3 North final, Alex Santostefano (left) celebrated after doubling up a Case runner at first with her throw from the right field to secure a 10-7 win in the state semifinals.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

(In the month of June, the Globe will turn back the clock to a corresponding day from a previous year, highlighting a moment from the spring high school postseason.)

June 15, 2019: In 2018, Alex Santostefano watched her Austin Prep softball teammates celebrate a Division 3 North sectional title from the sideline as she recovered from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

One year later, the senior produced the winning hit to help the top-seeded Cougars defend their sectional crown. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Santostefano roped a single to right field, scoring Lauren Sablone from second base and delivering a 2-1 walkoff win over Catholic Central rival St. Mary’s at Martin Field in Lowell.

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“It feels amazing, coming back,” said Santostefano, an East Boston resident, after the game. “I was bummed last year that I couldn’t play, but I knew that I’d come back the next year and bring it home with them.”

The victory marked Austin Prep’s fourth consecutive D3 North title. The Cougars went on to defeat Joseph A. Case in the state semifinals before blanking Turner Falls, 3-0, to capture the state championship.