Mitani makes Mesa stronger

Daily Pilot

Kira Mitani looked forward to senior day last week. The best part came at the end of it, after Costa Mesa High won the softball game at home in 11 innings.

Mitani and the rest of her teammates lined up at third base. One by one, they raced home smiling.

Each player ended up covered in more than dirt after they slid in.

Apple cider is what they wanted poured on top of them. The reason makes sense to Mitani.

"It makes it sticky and messy," Mitani said.

Closing out senior day drenched in apple cider has been a tradition since Mitani joined the Mustangs as a freshman.

Mitani is the first to tell you that she has been through a lot during her four seasons, ups and downs, three coaches, and one year she quit. She returned as a junior and was responsible for Costa Mesa's 14 wins.

The ride is something Mitani said she's glad she experienced.

"I'll miss the team," Mitani.

Costa Mesa will also miss Mitani, its ace.

Mitani has played a vital role to the Mustangs' back-to-back second-place finishes in the Orange Coast League. Costa Mesa (17-8, 4-5 in league) is off to the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs again, thanks to Mitani's right arm.

In two big league games last week, Mitani won both. First, she beat rival Estancia, recording four strikeouts, zero walks, and allowing just four hits in six innings.

A seventh inning wasn't necessary.

Costa Mesa won by mercy rule, 10-0. Not only did Mitani slow down the Eagles' bats, but she also hurt them with her own bat.

With two outs in the fourth inning, Mitani drove in two runs with a double. The Mustangs avoided Estancia's attempt at a three-game sweep.

The victory meant so much to Mitani that she said it has become her favorite athletic moment because of the style Costa Mesa won.

The Mustangs' second game last week wasn't so easy.

Costa Mesa and Godinez went into the game tied for second place in league. They were even after seven innings as well.

Mitani started the game and she finished it 11 innings later.

Mitani fired so many pitches that first-year coach Nichole Maddox stopped keeping track of the pitch count. Mitani struck out eight batters and the Mustangs prevailed, 6-5, clinching second place.

"[She threw] more than she had to," Maddox said. "That was something I get on the girls about. She's our only pitcher and [they] are causing her to throw extra pitches."

Mitani doesn't complain.

Maddox appreciates her resolve.

"She's come out, even if she's been sick. ready to play," Maddox said. "It was always, you know, hopefully she doesn't get hurt or anything because we'd be in trouble.

"It's going to be hard next year without her."

Kira Mitani Hometown: Costa MesaBorn: July 2, 1992Height: 5-foot-3Favorite food: Mushroom and onion pizzaFavorite movie: "Avatar"Favorite athletic moment: Beating Estancia last week.Week in review: Struck out 12 and earned two wins to help Mesa clinch second place in the Orange Coast League.

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