Junior Hailie Salyer could not remember the exact score from the first Battle for the Bell softball game that she played for Costa Mesa High, but she knew that it did not go well.
That game has served as motivation since, and she led the charge against the visiting Eagles on Friday.
Salyer went four for five with a home run and four runs batted in to lead the Mustangs to a 21-2 victory in the Orange Coast League opener.
“It felt good to finally do what needed to be done for the beginning of the [league] season,” Salyer said. “We started off with a rough preseason.
“Coming into league, it’s really nice to get a win, no matter what team it was going to be. It was nice to take a win.”
The Mustangs (4-8) batted around in all four innings they came to the plate. Shortstop Haley Wolf went three for three with four runs scored. Third baseman Vanessa Rodriguez had a home run to go back-to-back with Salyer in the second inning.
“I didn’t know [it was going out] at first, but it was amazing,” Rodriguez said. “I wasn’t expecting it, but it was really nice to hit it over the fence.”
Jennifer Orozco, Stephanie Herrera, Wolf and Rodriguez each had two RBIs. Katie Belmontes added two hits off the bench, while Natalie Torres, Alexis Litvak and Herrera each scored two runs.
Costa Mesa had several key pieces return from a team that advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division 7 quarterfinals last season, making the Mustangs’ nonleague struggles rather surprising.
Mustangs coach Doug Deats said that it had been frustrating for his team to lose multiple games in a row, but that it was getting closer to putting the right pieces in the right places.
“We wanted to win,” Deats said. “We looked at our nonleague as basically an exhibition season, like a spring training. We have a lot of new kids. We were trying to figure out the right combinations, and I think we’re getting closer. I still don’t think we’ve got it right, but I think we’re getting closer.
“They’ve been working hard. They’ve kept good attitudes, and so I’m really happy for the girls.”
One adjustment made by the Mustangs has been the distribution of innings in the pitching circle. Litvak has seen considerably more time at pitcher this year because the Mustangs like what Wolf can provide them defensively on the left side of the infield.
“Both pitchers have pitched well,” Deats said. “The totality of the team defense, I think we’re stronger when Haley Wolf plays an infield spot than if she is just in the circle.
“That’s why she has given up quite a few innings to try to anchor us down. She’s playing [shortstop] and third [base], and those are important spots for us.”
Litvak threw a complete game, allowing two unearned runs while striking out six. She walked none.
Lena De La O had a triple for the Eagles (2-7-1). Samantha Ochoa, Dylann Douglass, Micaiah Watanabe-Patterson and Perla Guerrero had hits.
Estancia starting pitcher Dioselin Soto left the game with an apparent left ankle injury in the fourth inning. She was carried off the field.
“She’s been having issues with her ankle for a while now, so we’ve been trying to rest her to get ready for this game,” Eagles coach Kari Gutierrez said. “She said that she felt something pop, so now she’s going to have to go check it out.