With a 5-2 record just past midway through the Golden West League
schedule last season, the Costa Mesa High softball team was almost
guaranteed to finish in the top three and qualify for the CIF
Southern Section Division III playoffs.
The Mustangs were in position to contend for a second straight
league title, but it all came crashing down just three days after
defeating Saddleback, 8-0, to improve to 5-2.
Mesa had to forfeit five victories (four in league and one
tournament contest) for using an ineligible player. Falling instantly
to 1-6 in league, a postseason opportunity never materialized.
This year is likely to be a different story, one without the drama
of what last season brought. So far, the script has been an easy read
for the Mustangs, who opened with two wins in their own tournament.
The Mustangs lost five players to graduation last spring, but
another crop of seniors should help fill the gaps.
This year's roster includes seniors, four juniors, four sophomores
and a freshman.
The senior pitchers are expected to carry the team, Coach Sharon
Uhl said. Tiffany Campos and Jackie Butler will lead the way in the
Butler earned first-team all-league honors last season.
"I would say she's probably the second- or third-best pitcher in
our league," Uhl said. "And Tiffany is just as good. They both throw
a lot of good stuff. Tiffany's pitches break and her changeup is
Campos is also going to be in the spotlight as a hitter, along
with sophomore Danielle Morton and senior Brittany McAleer.
McAleer, a transfer from Back Bay, already clouted a home run this
year (in the Costa Mesa tournament March 5).
Morton was named second-team all-league last season as a freshman,
and led the team in RBIs, Uhl said.
Senior Venesi Enesi is up from the junior varsity, but has already
made an impact. She hit a two-run double and stole two bases to tie
Thursday's game against Newport Harbor, 3-3, in the sixth inning,
thought Newport went on to win the game.
"She's one of those clutch hitters who comes through with the big
hit," Uhl said after Thursday's game. "Just like Brittany McAleer --
they'll get big hits when you need them."
As far as expectations go, Uhl's are somewhat realistic. The
Mustangs have never won a CIF championship, but this year they are
hoping to go further in the playoffs than they have in recent years.
"I'd say we're going to finish second in league behind Santa Ana,"
Uhl said, before the Mustangs topped the Saints, 8-0, in the
semifinals of the Costa Mesa tournament Saturday.
Mesa lost in the tournament title game to Huntington Beach, 3-0,
Santa Ana was league champ last year, dethroning Costa Mesa, which
was then eliminated in the first round of the CIF playoffs in 2003.