Season ends for softball program

It's a historic week for the Laguna Beach softball and baseball teams.

For starters, the programs are playing CIF playoff games in the same season for the first time. For the baseball program, the school hosted only its third, and first since 2000, postseason game Thursday when the Breakers played Indio in a first-round Division 4 match-up.

The softball team played only the second postseason game in program history Wednesday. They traveled to Anaheim to take on Magnolia, where they lost, 16-6, in a Division 5 wild-card game.

Laguna's season ended at 10-9, a nice feat for a program that returned to varsity competition this year for the first time since the 2006-07 school year.

"That's history-making," Laguna Coach Mike Hunter said of his squad's ability to reach the CIF playoffs in the program's return to the diamond.

Laguna's only other postseason appearance came in 1990 and ended in a 3A Division loss (4-0) to West Torrance.

"Making CIF this year is really a big moment for this program and the kids," Hunter said. "Laguna Beach should be very proud. We did it with a young group of players, too. It was a great experience."

Against Magnolia, both Katie Anderson and Kennedi Gherardini hit two-run doubles and pitcher Haley Putnam had two hits.

Laguna, which finished 5-5 and in fourth place in Orange Coast League play, made the CIF playoffs as an at-large entry. The Breakers will return their entire squad for 2012.

"It's only going to get better," Hunter said. "From what I understand, we have a great group of upcoming kids from the middle school level. Add that to what we have coming back, and that will give us some depth.

"The kids this year gained valuable experience. They played very competitive softball and have a lot to be proud of."



Laguna steamrolled into postseason play after completing a record-breaking 25-2 regular season last week with a 14-3 Orange Coast League victory May 12 over Saddleback. The win capped the program's first undefeated run in league competition. In going 15-0, the Breakers outscored their league foes, 187-31.

Now, the Breakers are prepared for a postseason run in a tough Division 4 bracket.

In the final Division 4 poll of the regular season, Laguna was ranked fourth and Indio sixth. The Rajahs finished third in the Desert Valley League behind Palm Desert, the top-seed in the division playoffs, and eighth-ranked La Quinta/La Quinta.

Indio, however, played a wild-card game Tuesday against Bloomington (Sunkist No. 3) and beat the Bruins, 16-1, to earn a date with Laguna.

The score from Thursday's game wasn't available at press time. The winner of the Indio-Laguna game takes on the winner of another Thursday first-round game between Monrovia-El Segundo, at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday .

"I don't think the kids believe it's done because there's still a lot that they want to do," Laguna Coach Jeff Sears said of a season that continues to assault the program's record book. "They are having a blast, but the mission's not accomplished yet.

"We had a very sharp, very crisp practice (Tuesday) and they worked their butts off in the weight room afterward. They don't want this to end."

Senior Chris Paul (9-1) got the start against Indio. Should Laguna advance, Sears said that Tuesday's starter "most likely" would be senior Keaton Jones, who was 6-0 with five saves heading into the postseason.

"When the season first started, there was so much speculation as to who would pitch, who'd play where," Sears said. "A lot of things were still up in the air. But it's been unbelievable to watch all these guys accept their individual roles. We're not good unless everybody's good. And these guys are good."

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