Bella Secaira made her imprint on everything the Newport Harbor High softball team did this spring.
The Sailors were red-hot at the start of the season, going 13-6 before beginning their brutal Sunset League schedule.
Secaira was, too, batting near a .600 clip early on. The sophomore catcher helped the club win the silver bracket at the Costa Mesa tournament, finishing fifth overall. There was no MVP named for the La Quinta tournament, but Coach Tony Qualin said his vote would have gone to Secaira. She was two for two with three runs batted in and a double in the championship game, helping Newport Harbor defeat La Quinta, 3-1.
During the Sunset League campaign Secaira was no less involved. The Sailors were a team that lost their senior leader, pitcher Alex Bauer, who decided to switch sports to rowing before the season even began. But Secaira, a team captain, served as a motivating force even as the team had yet another 0-10 league record.
For her talents and leadership, Secaira is the Daily Pilot Dream Team Player of the Year for the Newport-Mesa area.
"She's just an all-around great player," Qualin said after Secaira earned first-team All-Sunset League honors for the second straight season. She led the team — and the area — with a .450 batting average and 28 RBIs.
Qualin said Secaira also improved defensively, throwing more runners out last year. In a program where few girls have gone on to play at the next level, she definitely wants to play in college, and Qualin wouldn't be surprised if that wish came true.
She will continue to work hard to achieve that goal, even after her accident (see column).
"She's really a mature kid, unselfish, hard-working," Qualin said. "She was really supportive of the other players. She didn't get involved with any of the 'mean girls' stuff that you get on teams."
The Sailors also keep improving. They were easily the best team in Newport-Mesa this season, going a combined 5-0 against rival Corona del Mar, Estancia and Costa Mesa.
Costa Mesa Coach Nichole Maddox, whose team was the only one of the four local teams to make the CIF playoffs, still wouldn't argue with the choice of Secaira as the area's best player.
"She's a really solid player," Maddox said.
With two years left and her work ethic, the sky appears to be the limit for Secaira.
Here's a look at the other 10 Dream Team selections for softball:
Corona del Mar
The power-hitting junior catcher helped the Sea Kings (7-21, 0-10 in the Pacific Coast League) through a transition year as their coach resigned mid-season. Susolik, a second-team All-Pacific Coast League selection, shined defensively and also led the Sea Kings in most offensive categories. The Yale commit was named CdM's offensive MVP, and it was easy to see why after she was first in batting average (.435), home runs (three), runs batted in (26), doubles (11) and runs scored (23).
The Sailors' junior shortstop, a second-team All-Sunset League selection, did everything asked of her as the leadoff hitter. LeGault, also a basketball player, showed she was fast on the diamond as she led the league with 28 stolen bases. She also batted .391 for the Sailors (13-16, 0-10 in league), and Coach Tony Qualin said she led the team in hitting during the league schedule. She had a team-best .500 on-base percentage.
The senior shortstop, a captain, was solid both in the field and at the plate for Coach Nichole Maddox's Mustangs (8-17, 6-4 in league), helping them reach the CIF playoffs for the third straight year. The team's lone first-team All-Orange Coast League selection, Krohnfeldt batted a team-best .387 for the Mustangs. Krohnfeldt, also an all-league performer as a volleyball outside hitter, also had a team-best 14 stolen bases. The four-year varsity starter tied for the team lead in home runs (two) and runs scored (21).
Murtha, a senior third baseman, was known for her steady glove at the hot corner. But she also carried a quite potent bat for the Eagles (5-20, 2-8 in league). The first-team All-Orange Coast League selection batted .276 with a team-best four home runs and 15 RBIs. The all-around package led Coach Marcus Franco to say that Murtha established her own name in sports, not just as the older sister of Estancia football running back Robert Murtha.
Corona del Mar
The Sea Kings' junior pitcher/first baseman provided leadership in 2011, along with Susolik, on a very young team with little experience. Owen batted .429, second on the team, and drove in 17 runs. In the circle, she accounted for all her team's wins, finishing 7-13 with a 3.39 earned-run average. She'll help the Sea Kings next year as they try to win their first league game since 2008.
Marshall, a sophomore, proved she was up to the challenge after Newport Harbor's senior captain, pitcher Alex Bauer, changed sports from softball to rowing. Marshall, a second-team All-Sunset League selection, provided big pitching performances to help the Sailors take fifth at the Costa Mesa tournament, as well as win the La Quinta Tournament. Despite missing five league games due to a school trip to Europe, she was second on Newport Harbor with 19 RBIs and had a .444 batting average.
The senior catcher shined defensively, transitioning well as the Mustangs moved from a very experienced pitcher — graduate Kira Mitani — to one with little experience in Tamy Cerrato. Skipps also showed a penchant for throwing out opposing base runners, earning the team's co-Defensive Player of the Year award. She batted .234 for Costa Mesa and hit two of the Mustangs' four home runs.
The sophomore was an experienced travel-ball player — playing on the same SoCal Cougars team as Owen — and the player known as "Ray" appears to have a bright future with the Eagles. Reynolds moved from third base to first base this year and was easily the Eagles' best hitter, former coach Judd Fryslie said. A first-team All-Orange Coast League selection, she batted .415 and had a team-best 20 RBIs. She also had three home runs and four triples.
Feinstein, a senior, is headed to Cal State Dominguez Hills for soccer, but she was glad she decided to play her final year of softball too after helping Mesa back to the playoffs. She was a three-sport standout at Mesa, and in softball the second baseman was the Mustangs' Co-Defensive Player of the Year. A four-year varsity starter, Feinstein was a second-team All-Orange Coast League selection after batting .238 with five doubles, which tied for the team lead. She also stole nine bases.
The lone freshman on the Dream Team earned her spot after working hard and improving as the season progressed. Caviston, a first baseman and pitcher, battled admirably in the circle while Marshall was away during the tough Sunset League schedule. The second-team all-league selection batted .281, bumping that up to .351 in league. She had a team-best seven doubles and both Coach Tony Qualin and Secaira said they're very excited to see what Caviston does for the Sailors in the future.