Estancia High's softball team has been somewhat of a Jekyll and Hyde act early on this season.
Over its last four games entering Friday, the Eagles had allowed 51 runs, all of which were losses.
When the north-siders of Costa Mesa have won, it has been accomplished in convincing fashion. The good Estancia showed up on Friday in a nonleague home game against Bolsa Grande.
Emily Kubisty and Micaiah Watanabe-Patterson each had two hits and three runs batted in, as the Eagles rolled to an abbreviated five-inning 11-1 victory over the Matadors.
Estancia improved to 3-6 overall. The team has outscored its opponents, 31-1, in its three wins. That included a no-hitter against Orange on Mar. 3.
Eagles starter Brittany Walker (3-6) was well on her way to another shutout. It may have come to fruition if not for a dropped third strike with two outs in the fourth.
Alicia Castaneda reached base on the play, and Makenah Reddick followed with a single to drive in Alyssa Napoles.
Reddick, the starter for the Matadors (3-3), was not quite as successful in the pitching circle. Nine walks by the freshman kept the table set for Estancia's offense.
The Eagles took advantage, looking to run early and often. They stole a total of 10 bases in the contest.
"That's my style," Eagles Coach Michael Hunter said. "You look at my history, I love that game in motion. I love to have runners run, put pressure on the defense to make the plays. I'll send them to the plate. I'll challenge everything."
Hunter is in his first year with Estancia. He took responsibility for the wide array of results the team has experienced, explaining that the implementation of a new coaching philosophy takes time to adapt to.
"I play a different style of game than the previous coaches," Hunter said. "I respect what they did here, but when you change a system, you're going to have mixed results and inconsistencies."
"There is a lot of success and failure with that."
Watanabe-Patterson was the one to watch in the early innings. She knocked in Kubisty, who had stolen second with two outs, for an Estancia 1-0 lead in the first.
The next inning, she drove a liner through the right side of the infield to score two with the bases loaded.
Watanabe-Patterson hopes that she can put in a full season. Her freshman year was cut short after she tore her ACL in just her second varsity game.
She received a surprise this year, as she has immediately stepped in as the team's cleanup hitter. The Eagles' first baseman added that her position in the batting order had a psychological impact.
"It was a big shock to me," Watanabe-Patterson said. "I figured that it would go to Kalena [Shepherd], our catcher. She's an amazing hitter."
"Me being fourth in the lineup, that kind of took me aback. I was like, 'Okay, maybe I should be a little bit more confident with the things that I do on this field.'"
Estancia taxed Reddick (3-3) in the second, forcing her to throw 52 pitches. Walker, Kubisty, Jessica Garcia, and Mackenzie McIntyre also drove in runs in the inning as the Eagles sent 12 batters to the plate.
Walker had good rapport with backup catcher Samantha Ochoa. She allowed four hits and struck out six over her five innings.
"This is actually my first [season] that I have pitched with Sam, and she's awesome," Walker said. "She's been doing great. She's been framing the ball well, and it's been making my pitches look good."
Estancia 11, Bolsa Grande 1
SCORE BY INNINGS
BG 000 10 – 1 4 1
Est 173 0X – 11 8 0
Mak. Reddick and Guerrero; Walker and Ochoa. W – Walker, 3-6. L – Mak. Reddick, 3-3. 3B – Kubisty (Est).