HUNTINGTON BEACH — It took a few days for the Ocean View softball team to put a tough setback in the past late last week. On Thursday, the Seahawks looked like a rejuvenated team.
Ocean View started the CIF Southern Section Division 4 softball playoffs at home Thursday and owned Northview of Covina from the start. The Seahawks jumped on the Vikings early and often and rode a quick start to a 7-0 victory. The win advances the Seahawks (17-9) to a second-round game Tuesday when they will face Freeway League champion La Habra. The Highlanders crushed Woodcrest Christian, 18-0, Tuesday.
Ocean View's impressive playoff win came one week after a disappointing, 3-0 loss to Segerstrom in a game that determined the Golden West League champion. The Northview game provided the Seahawks with the start of a new season.
"The girls came out ready, which was so great to see," Ocean View Coach Mike McLaughlan said. "I was a little concerned with how the girls would respond from that disappointing loss to Segerstrom. They got over it after a couple of days and then concentrated on the playoffs. Plus, not knowing anything about [Northview], not knowing what to expect, also was a concern. The girls, though, were ready and did a great job today. Any time you have Brittany (Hitchcock) on the mound, we know we will be in any game."
Hitchcock contained Northview (17-10, Valle Vista League No. 2) throughout and finished with a three-hitter. The junior took a one-hitter into the seventh inning but the Vikings came up with two hits with two outs. That one-hitter might have stood, had there not been a miscommunication between two Seahawks on a pop up to shallow right field. Instead of a catch being made to end the game, the ball dropped safely to the turf and the Vikings had their second hit.
"I thought Brittany did a great job," McLaughlan said of his ace who took a 0.82 ERA into the game and improved to 14-5. "She had a one-hitter going, until that play in the last inning. She also did a great job at the plate. We really hit the ball well today, from top to bottom. She had a couple of hits, so did Toby [Salzman], and Erika [Jason] was on fire."
It was Jason, a junior outfielder who is Ocean View's lead-off hitter, who started the Seahawks rolling. She did it in an odd way, too.
Jason, who normally bats from the right side of the plate, batted from the left, to start the game. She popped up for an apparent out, but the play was wiped away when Northview pitcher Ana Mejia was called for an illegal pitch. Getting a new chance at the plate, Jason switched to the right side, and then roped a triple to right-center field. She went on to score on an RBI single by Salzman, for the first of two runs in the inning for the Seahawks.
In the bottom of the second, Ocean View struck for two more runs. Freshman Jade Bustamonte hit a lead-off single to right-field before Jason doubled to the fence in center field. Salzman then singled over the glove and the high reach of airborne Northview second baseman Erinn Jaramillo. The sophomore's hit brought in a run and Hitchcock came up with a sacrifice RBI to make it 4-0.
Ocean View further put the game out of reach in the fourth by scoring three more times. Emily Long started the rally by beating out an infield grounder for a single. One out later, Olivia Russ and Bustamonte hit back-to-back singles. With two out, Salzman singled up the middle to drive in her second run of the game, and Hitchcock picked up her second and third RBIs with a two-run single to left field.
Jason doubled again in the sixth inning and finished with three hits.
"This was a great way to start the playoffs," McLaughlan said. "The girls were focused, and that's how you need to play, especially at this point in the season."
In other CIF-SS softball playoff action Thursday:
Edison 6, Murrieta Valley 0: Jessica Plaza and Mercedes O'Connor both hit home runs and both had three hits in Edison's 11-hit attack as the Chargers shut down visiting Murrieta Valley, 6-0. Sammy Cordova (23-4) threw a complete game for the Chargers (24-4) who advance to face Canyon of Anaheim in a second-round game next Tuesday. Murrieta Valley was the No. 3 team from the Southwestern League.