Softball teams from the former Sunset League remember how difficult it used to be to secure a season sweep when they faced each other in a home-and-home set.
In the four-team Surf League, the upper division of the reconfigured Sunset Conference, teams have to play each other three times for a total of nine league contests.
Behind a complete effort from starting pitcher and cleanup hitter Emily Rush, Marina High accomplished the tough task of sweeping a league rival. The visiting Vikings defeated Edison 8-1 on Thursday.
Rush continued her full-frontal assault in league play, keeping the Vikings (16-6, 5-2 in league) in first place with two games remaining.
Rush had five hits, including a two-run home run, and four runs batted in. The junior also went the distance in the pitching circle, allowing one earned run on eight hits while striking out four. She did not issue a walk.
“I think shutting them down, pitching really well,” Rush said of what she liked best about her all-around performance. “I think that supports our team more, so I’m really happy about that.
“I like hitting home runs, but it helps pitching, too.”
Marina first baseman Shayla Thomas, a Cal State Northridge commit, reached base five times with only one hit. She also drew a pair of walks and was hit by a pitch twice, scoring four runs.
“I think, this year, I don’t know why, but I think the intensity is way higher,” Thomas said. “We’re all [playing motivated] now. We knew that the league was all weird and stuff, so we were just like, ‘Let’s give it our all and come out on top.’”
Shortstop Nicole Logrecco went three for five and scored two runs. Zoe King, who alternated between designated player and catcher, also had three hits and two RBIs for the Vikings.
Marina went ahead 2-0 in the first inning, but the play that defined the game happened in the second inning before the Vikings had pulled away.
A rally by Edison (14-8, 2-4) came to an end almost as quickly as it began. Isabella Martinez, who went three for three, laced a double inside the left-field line, and Serena Starks got the sign from Chargers coach Melissa Roth to round third and head for home.
The relay throw reached King in time, but without a clear path to the plate, Starks plunged into the Vikings catcher looking to jar the ball loose. King held onto the ball for the out, but Starks was initially ruled safe.
After a discussion between the umpires, the call on the field was overturned. Starks was called out for “malicious contact,” and she was removed from the game. Starks was allowed to remain in the dugout.
“What happened was the catcher caught the ball, and she had the ball,” Vikings co-coach Dan Hay said, adding that the key was that the ball beat Starks to the plate. “She has the right to have that lane and make that tag.”
Earlier in the day, Edison held its signing day ceremony. Four softball players, including the Princeton-bound Starks, put pen to paper during the event.
With Starks being called out and restricted to the bench for the remainder of the game, the Chargers’ day took a discouraging turn.
“It’s not the outcome that we want,” Roth said, adding that Starks did what she could as an aggressive baserunner to try to be safe. “It’s not a reflection of our player, by any means, if anyone knows her.
“There’s no malicious intent in what she did. She plays the game hard. She plays the game clean.”
Roth went on to say that the play had a significant role in shifting the momentum. Nancy Clyne drove in the Chargers’ lone run with a sacrifice-fly in the sixth.
“I would never put [a loss] on an umpire or say that they didn’t do their job, but today, they fell short,” said Roth, whose team is in last place in the league. “It’s difficult. How do you expect any team, any player, to come back from that?