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Local softball teams produced redemptive playoff performances

Huntington Beach’s Shelbi Ortiz is given the run on an obstruction call at the plate in a quarterfin
Huntington Beach’s Shelbi Ortiz is given the run on an obstruction call at the plate in a quarterfinal CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoff game on Thursday, May 24. Ortiz was initially given the run due to an obstruction call but the call was overturned.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Some sayings do not stand up across all platforms.

For instance, “Past performance is the best predictor of future success,” would not apply to the softball playoffs this season.

In 2017, local teams went 1-5 in the CIF Southern Section softball playoffs. None of the qualifying teams advanced out of the first round of the main draw, with two of the losses coming by way of a shutout.

On that note, consider this postseason an unquestionable success.

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Huntington Beach High made its first appearance in a quarterfinal. The Oilers made their trip count, taking top-seeded Norco to the brink of elimination on the road in the Division 1 playoffs.

After falling behind 5-1 in the fifth inning, the Oilers got a two-run triple from Malia Cockrell in the sixth, and Kelli Kufta’s single through the left side of the infield tied the score at 5-5 with two outs in the seventh.

Huntington Beach appeared to have taken a one-run lead when Shelbi Ortiz was ruled safe at home plate on an obstruction call.

The call on the field wound up being overturned after the umpires were asked to conference. Oilers’ coach Jeff Forsberg had his turn to take issue with the call, and despite his best efforts, the momentum had swung to Norco. The Cougars walked off on a double by Kinzie Hansen, an Oklahoma-committed catcher in the next half inning.

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“It was definitely hard, but to see our coach fighting for us gave us even more fire to want to win the game,” Kufta said.

It may not be much consolation, but Huntington Beach was the last team remaining from the Sunset League. That includes bettering the playoff run of Los Alamitos, which won the Division 1 title last year.

The Oilers (21-9, 9-1 in league) and the Griffins (24-3, 9-1) shared the Sunset League crown this season.

Edison also made itself a tough out from the Sunset. The Chargers played in two one-run games in the Division 2 playoffs, winning at Cerritos and falling to visiting Aliso Niguel by identical 2-1 scores.

Although the offense struggled, the Chargers (15-11) have great pitching depth going forward in the form of junior Jenna Bloom and sophomore Talia Hannappel.

Edison will also return leadoff hitter Serena Starks, who went six for seven with five stolen bases in the playoffs.

“That was pretty awesome,” Starks said of her hot hitting this postseason. “It’s good to have a good playoff season because I’ve never won a CIF game before. Winning that first CIF game really pumped me up.”

She added that the Chargers were just a couple of key hits away from reaching the quarterfinals themselves.

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“We have a lot of underclassmen in the top of our lineup, and I just think they need more experience,” Starks said. “This year, we didn’t get the results that we wanted, but I think next year we can go farther because we have a lot of underclassmen that now have CIF under their belts, so I think we’ll do good next year.”

Costa Mesa reached the Division 7 quarterfinals after placing third in the Orange Coast League. The Mustangs (20-9) did so behind a potent offense that scored 36 runs in its first two playoff games.

Malia Tufuga and Hailie Salyer each had six runs batted in during the playoffs. Katie Belmontes had four hits, three of which were doubles.

Ocean View edged Goleta Dos Pueblos 2-1 in the Division 5 wild-card round.

Local teams went a combined 6-5 overall this postseason – Huntington Beach (2-1), Costa Mesa (2-1), Edison (1-1), Ocean View (1-1) and Marina (0-1).

The Orange County Coaches All-Star Classic softball game will be held on June 5 at Irvine Bill Barber Park’s Deanna Manning Stadium at 6 p.m.

andrew.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @ProfessorTurner

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