This season started out the same way as several recently have for the Los Amigos High softball team.
The Lobos, who reside in CIF Southern Section Division 7, have proven themselves to be a competitive group when matched up against similar programs.
Tougher to handle have been the games in the Garden Grove League, and the first matchup against league newcomer Loara proved no different.
The Saxons rode an early offensive outburst to a 15-2 win on Tuesday at Los Amigos.
Loara (8-3, 3-0 in league) scored 10 runs over the first two innings. Makayla Weiser opened the scoring in the first with a bases-loaded double inside the third-base bag to bring in two runs. The sophomore catcher went three for three with three runs scored and three runs batted in.
With the bases full again later in the inning, Pilar Hernandez singled up the middle to score two more runs.
The Saxons jumped to a 6-0 lead just two batters into the second inning when Emma Brenchley homered to the opposite field in right.
Hernandez and Brenchley drove in three runs apiece for the Saxons.
Loara has positioned itself to challenge Santiago, ranked No. 1 in Division 6 in the latest CIF poll, for the league’s top spot. The teams face each other on Wednesday at Santiago High at 3 p.m.
“I feel that we will have a chance, as long as we do keep it together and put [forth] our all like we have been lately,” Weiser said. “I definitely do feel more confident about this year, getting a championship, since this year, we’re a lot more together. We’re a lot more focused.”
Competing for league championships has become an expectation for the Saxons, who previously competed in the Golden West League. Loara won four consecutive league titles from 2014 to 2017.
“League championships are what we dream about,” Saxons coach Todd Rolph said. “That’s what we strive for. We want to put banners up. Whether we’re in the Empire League, the Golden West League, or now the Garden Grove League, that’s our goal.”
This season marks the third straight that Rolph has had the services of the 6-foot-2 Brenchley in the pitching circle. She threw four shutout innings and faced just one batter over the minimum over that stretch.
“Truthfully, as soon as [Loara] showed up, they thought that she was the coach and she was helping out,” Lobos coach Chris De Anda said of his team’s reaction to facing Brenchley. “To see her, she took up that whole circle. She’s just a big, scary figure up there.
“They knew, they kind of saw once she started throwing that, ‘All right, we’re going to be in the back of the box.’ ”
Kayla Onofre had two hits for the Lobos (6-4, 0-3), and Ariana Alvarez also singled against Brenchley. The Saxons’ defense erased two of the baserunners.
In the first inning, Onofre was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. In the third inning, first baseman Mari Luna threw down to second after recording a force out to get Alvarez for a tag and a double play.
For their part, the Lobos caught a number of sharply hit balls in the outfield. Right fielder Alondra Perez twice robbed Hernandez of a hit.
De Anda said that Perez is among a number of first-year varsity players on the team. He added that many of them have been “thrown into the fire” against teams in higher divisions, including Loara, which is in Division 5.