Mesa blasts rival Eagles

COSTA MESA — Estancia High assistant softball coach Marcus Franco took a few steps toward the outfield, teasing Costa Mesa High senior center fielder Nikki Lether.

Lether flashed the leather, making back-to-back nice catches in the third inning of Tuesday's Orange Coast League game. Franco, the head coach at Costa Mesa in 2008 and 2009, asked Lether if that was the same center fielder who couldn't catch a fly ball four years ago.

Franco helped build up the Mustangs' edge in softball experience over the Eagles. Costa Mesa used that experience to frustrate its former coach all game.

The Mustangs scored at least once in every inning as they pummeled their cross-town rivals, 16-4, at Estancia High.

"We played amazing today," Costa Mesa Coach Nichole Maddox said. "We were defensively sound, offensively sound. We played well as a team today."

The Mustangs (5-12, 3-2 in league) find themselves in a familiar place after the first half of league, in a three-way tie for second place with Godinez and Laguna Beach. Costa Mesa has finished second in the league the last two years to Calvary Chapel, which is again in first place.

Estancia (4-16, 1-4) didn't really make the Mustangs earn the win Tuesday. Mesa was already ahead, 6-0, in the third inning before it collected its first hit. The Mustangs took advantage of six Estancia errors and also walked 11 times.

Costa Mesa played better defensively, committing just two errors.

"Defense is so key," said Mustangs senior second baseman Sami Feinstein, another four-year varsity starter who swooped over in the second inning to pick a runner off first base. "Yeah, when you're up to bat you have to get the job done and play defense. But if you can't play defense, then you can't win the game either. I think our defense today was really solid. It had to do with us staying mentally focused."

Senior Tamy Cerrato got her second win in two days for Mesa. She pitched the complete game, giving up three earned runs on 10 hits. She struck out three and walked four.

"I just really wanted to win," Cerrato said. "I want to go into CIF with a good record. I want us to try to get first or second place."

Cerrato (4-8) started the year as the Mustangs' No. 2 starter. Now, she's their workhorse.

"I know she's got to be tired, but she's done a great job for us," Maddox said. "We like her focus. She's mentally there; she doesn't get jittery and she doesn't let anything stop her. Something happens, she's able to shake it off and keep going. And that's what we need; [the game] is not just physical."

Senior Sara Torranueva was the Mustangs' hitting leader, going three for four with a walk and three runs scored. Senior shortstop Alex Krohnfeldt was one for two, walked three times and was hit by a pitch. Sophomore first baseman Nikki Delgado also scored three times and sophomore left fielder Molly Settles was two for two with three runs batted in. Senior third baseman Itzel Flores was two for four with a double and two RBIs.

Three times in the game, the Eagles left the bases loaded. The last one came in the fifth, with the hosts down, 9-4. Cerrato induced a strikeout then a lineout to right to get out of the jam.

Estancia senior Claire Woodside was two for four with two RBIs. Senior third baseman Maliah Murtha shined defensively and also had an RBI single, as did senior shortstop Roni Harry.

Franco still teaches at Costa Mesa High, but said he plans to transfer over to Estancia and that Tuesday's game solidified that. He said he is extremely proud of the Eagles, who came into the year with only three players — Woodside, Murtha and sophomore first baseman Rachelle Reynolds — with any varsity experience.

"Costa Mesa [has] five four-year varsity starters," Franco said. "I coached them for two years. This [result] is supposed to happen with the amount of inexperience we have. You're not going to win many games when you're not playing defense, you're not pitching, you're not catching, you're not throwing, you're not running the bases and you're not coming up with key hits.

"I'm disappointed, but I also know where my girls are at right now. I'm proud of them. I love them like daughters. They've done everything we've asked, and it's just a matter of them playing."


Orange Coast League

Costa Mesa 16, Estancia 4


CM2312125 — 16102

Est1001200 — 4105

Cerrato and Skipps; Woodside, Hinkle (2), Stevenson (7) and Urquiza. W – Cerrato, 4-8. L – Woodside. 2B – Flores (CM).

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