Good vibes propel CdM

COSTA MESA — The day started with a trip the Corona del Mar High softball team didn't think it would have to make.

Someone left the sprinklers on overnight at the Sea Kings' field, leaving it drenched and unplayable Saturday morning. The nonleague doubleheader against Estancia would have to be moved to the Eagles' field.

Once the Sea Kings got to Estancia, they made themselves at home. They crushed the ball to earn a pair of victories, first 17-7 in five innings, then 21-14 in eight innings.

At least one person in attendance said he liked the football type of scores. He was the guy down the third-base line for CdM.

Former CdM athletic director Jerry Jelnick is stepping in as head coach for the Sea Kings. Athletic Director Don Grable said John Felicetti, who was in his third year at CdM, resigned Tuesday night for personal reasons. Felicetti did not return a phone call Saturday.

Jelnick, a physical education teacher and longtime coach at CdM, has never coached softball at the school. He has recently been the freshman football coach for the Sea Kings, in addition to helping Grable as an assistant athletic director. Jelnick said he was also the CdM varsity baseball coach in the mid-to-late 1980s.

"Grable said, 'Hey, [the softball coaching job] is either you or I,' " Jelnick said. "I said, 'Well, I have some baseball background. Let me check with my wife.' She was supportive and I said I can help. I'm a team player. I've been at the school for a long time, and instead of saying we've got to disband the program or whatever, I'm willing to help out. Win or lose, it'll be fun, and the kids will learn. Hopefully they'll be able to grow as softball players."

CdM catcher Lindsey Susolik and pitcher Delaney Owen, both juniors, said this year there had been some tension on the team between Felicetti and some of the players. Susolik added that a member of Felicetti's family was having health issues, so that had been taking a lot of his attention.

"It's been a crazy week," Susolik said. "A lot of drama, to say the least. But Coach Jelnick is so uplifting. He allows us to push through the bad things that happen."

Susolik provided a good thing in the second game of the doubleheader. Her three-run homer in the second inning gave the Sea Kings a 7-0 lead. CdM (5-10) added another run before Estancia (3-11) mounted a comeback.

The Eagles came all the way back, tying the score at 9-9 in the fifth when sophomore Alexis Paul singled in freshman Kelly Hinkle. They even took a 13-10 lead in the sixth, with sophomore Rachelle Reynolds providing the big hit with a two-RBI single to left.

Estancia Coach Judd Fryslie said he was proud of his team, which has just three varsity returners in senior pitcher Claire Woodside, Reynolds and senior Malia Murtha. Murtha hit a two-run home run to right in the fourth inning, while Reynolds played catcher in the absence of senior Kalina Urquiza (deep thigh bruise).

But the Sea Kings, who have no seniors, scored three in the seventh before breaking the game open in the eighth inning. They scored eight runs on just one hit in the frame, taking advantage of seven walks and a fielding error. For the game, CdM was out-hit, 11-7, but took advantage of 19 walks issued by Eagles pitchers.

Owen got the win in relief, allowing four earned runs in four innings. She said even when the team got down, the new positive thinking went a long way.

"In the past, we've been a lot more negative on each other," Owen said. "These games, we wanted to be more positive. If somebody makes a mistake, then you get over it and you get the next play."

Owen went the whole way in the opener as CdM opened up a 17-1 lead. Estancia rallied with six runs in the top of the fifth, but it wasn't quite enough to stop the mercy rule from going into effect.

Owen and Susolik are CdM's only travel-ball players, but the Sea Kings got plenty of contributions Saturday. Junior second baseman Nicolette Stefanello went a combined four for six with four walks and six runs scored. Freshman left fielder Blair Henderson, the leadoff hitter, went two for four with a double and six walks, scoring seven times.

Freshman third baseman Karley Johnston (two for five with five walks and eight runs scored) and freshman shortstop Kate Thompson (four for eight with a triple and six combined RBIs) also led the offensive charge.

Reynolds (three for seven with two doubles) led Estancia, which also got a solo home run in Game 1 from sophomore center fielder Cassie Stevenson.

Owen and Reynolds play for the same travel-ball team, the SoCal Cougars. They shared a few laughs Saturday, and after the nearly six-hour doubleheader ended the teams also shared some barbecued hamburgers.

"We're really good friends," Owen said. "I'll go up and joke to her, and she'll say something back. Both of us kind of are at the point where our teams are not the best teams in our leagues, so we're both like, 'Whatever happens, happens.' We're going to try our hardest."

Jelnick will help make sure of that.

"The girls did a nice job," he said. "A lot of credit to them. They hung in there and, besides getting two victories, a lot of things happened that we can go over. It's almost like a scrimmage for me. A lot of things happened that we can work on, and it's going to improve them as better players."

CdM opens Pacific Coast League play Tuesday against visiting Northwood.

Estancia plays host to Aliso Niguel on Friday before its Orange Coast League opener against Laguna Beach on April 12.

Nonleague

Game 2

Corona del Mar 21,

Estancia 14 (8 innings)

SCORE BY INNINGS

CdM 440 011 38 – 21 7 2

Est 003 424 01 – 14 11 5

Penna, Meyers (5), Owen (5) and Susolik; Woodside, Stevenson (1), Hunkle (4), Tubias (8), Woodside (8) and Reynolds. W – Owen, 5-5. L – Tubias. 2B – Stefanello (CdM), Reynolds (E). 3B – Davis (E). HR – Susolik (CdM), Murtha (E).

Game 1

Corona del Mar 17,

Estancia 7 (5 innings)

SCORE BY INNINGS

Est 001 06 – 7 7 3

CdM 548 0x – 17 11 2

Woodside, Stevenson (2), Hinkle (3), Woodside (4) and Reynolds; Owen and Susolik. W – Owen, 4-5. L – Woodside. 2B – Reynolds (E), Henderson (CdM). 3B – Woodside (E), Thompson (CdM). HR – Stevenson (E).

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