CORONA DEL MAR — After the game, members of the Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar high softball teams hugged near home plate.
A few minutes later, they posed together for pictures after Thursday's Battle of the Bay game at CdM.
But when sophomore pitcher Hattie Marshall was in the circle, she said her mindset was different. It was all business.
"Friends are enemies when we play," Marshall said.
The Sailors didn't let their friends get in the way of their hot start to the season, pounding the Sea Kings, 14-3, in a six-inning game.
Newport Harbor is now 3-0 this season and has outscored its opponents by a combined 47-3. And Coach Tony Qualin said Thursday wasn't one of his team's better hitting days.
It was clearly good enough for the Sailors to beat their Back Bay rival CdM (1-3) for the fourth straight year.
"We want to win," Marshall said. "We have that drive. Some of the other teams out there that have 40 travel-ball players maybe already feel they have it, but we want it so bad. We have a bigger drive."
Marshall said Newport Harbor has six travel-ball players. They all bat at the top of the lineup – junior shortstop Mandy LeGault, sophomore second baseman Lauren Gandi, Marshall, sophomore catcher Bella Secaira, freshman first baseman Savannah Caviston and junior center fielder Kendall Brennan.
They combined to go 12 for 22 against CdM, with 10 runs batted in. Gandi and Secaira, who was a first-team all-Sunset League selection last year as a freshman, each had three hits. After the game, they went to celebrate Brennan's 17th birthday with a big cake.
"We have very few travel-ball players here, but the girls who come here really want to help the younger girls," Secaira said. "We want to help them, help them learn everything in the game. That's where [our drive] comes from, I think. It's as a team, just wanting go to CIF finally."
Neither team has any seniors. The Sailors would have had one, but Qualin said pitcher Alex Bauer decided not to play softball this year. Bauer, a second-team all-league selection last year, is now on the crew team for Newport Harbor.
"[She was] our big, 6-foot, blonde Jennie Finch look-alike, and she quit playing softball," Qualin said. "She quit her travel-ball team, quit softball and she said, 'I'm going to go row.' [That's] our only senior, our team captain, our leading pitcher and our leading hitter."
Qualin said initially he was "shocked" by the decision, but his team has proved resilient. Marshall gave up three runs on seven hits against CdM, walking four but striking out nine.
Corona del Mar was quiet outside of the fifth inning. The Sea Kings made noise when freshman Blair Henderson and juniors Delaney Owen and Lindsey Susolik hit three consecutive doubles, scoring two runs. They got their third run on a single to center by freshman Amanda Penna. That made the score 9-3, as Owen (two for three with a double) and Susolik (one for two with a double) continued their strong starts to the season.
But the Sailors scored five more runs in the top of the sixth, and Marshall struck out the side in the bottom of the frame to end the game.
CdM made six errors, which really wasn't all that surprising to Coach John Felicetti.
"Only Lindsey and Delaney play year-round," Felicetti said. "All of the reps [the Sailors] get in those games playing travel-ball, they're way ahead of us. They've played so many more games."
CdM doesn't have a junior varsity team, and 10 of the 16 players are freshmen. But Felicetti said his team, which plays Los Amigos at 7:15 tonight at TeWinkle Park in the Costa Mesa Tournament, is getting better.
The Sailors hope they are too. They play a tough Yorba Linda squad, also tonight at 7:15 at TeWinkle Park in the Costa Mesa Tournament.
"It's our first real game," Marshall said. "We've been playing some easy teams and I'm ready for the competition."
There's that mindset again.
Newport Harbor 14, Corona del Mar 3
SCORE BY INNINGS
NH 0 1 3 1 4 5 – 14 12 1
CdM 0 0 0 0 3 0 – 3 7 6
Marshall and Secaira; Owen, Meyers (4) and Susolik. W – Marshall, 3-0. L – Owen, 1-3. 2B – Gandi (NH), Lopez (NH), Henderson (CdM), Owen (CdM), Susolik (CdM).