The Laguna Beach High softball team moved above .500 in Orange Coast League play Tuesday by taking down Saddleback, 15-0, in five innings at Thurston Middle School. They started the onslaught by getting seven hits in the first inning, including triples by Cory Kent and Kennedi Gherardini and a home run by freshman Jen Sorenson. Gherardini had a strong day at the plate, going four for four with five runs batted in.
The Breakers racked up 23 hits and improved to 3-2 in league and 11-6 overall.
"We got up big in the first inning, and cruised from there," Laguna Coach Alan Ludloff said. "This is the first time every player on our team got a hit in the same game."
Before blanking Saddleback, Laguna had posted another big offensive outing April 20 and defeated Costa Mesa, 13-1. The Breakers totaled 13 hits, led by Gherardini's two-run home run in the first inning and two home runs by sophomore Jordan Hartman, who drove in six runs.
Ludloff said that junior hurler Haley Putnam will start Friday's league game at Estancia. First pitch is 3:15 p.m. Next week, the Breakers host league-leader Calvary Chapel on Tuesday and Godinez on May 4. Both games start at 3:30 p.m. and are at Thurston.
"We need to stay focused and keep the momentum going against Estancia," Ludloff said. "With the Calvary game the following Tuesday, it is important we don't look past the Estancia game."
In order to stay relevant in the Orange Coach League race, the Breakers needed wins over Estancia and Calvary Chapel. They did just that.
On Tuesday, Laguna scored a huge win by defeating visiting Calvary Chapel, 4-2. The triumph put the Breakers at 6-4 in league and 13-7 overall. Calvary fell to 8-2 in league but still leads the OCL pack. Sophomore Grant Wilhelm kept the Eagles in check and struck out six in a complete game. He improved to 6-2.
Offensively, senior Alex Iannotti — who was coming off thumb surgery — made his first appearance of the season memorable as he hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning that broke a tie score and put the Breakers in the lead for good. Junior all-leaguer Larry Stewart went two for three with a double that scored two in the bottom of the first.
"Grant Wilhelm once again dug deep and competed for seven innings, making key pitches and keeping Calvary hitters off balance," Breakers Coach Mike Bair said. "We made no errors and made some great plays in the field behind Grant in crucial situations. Larry (Stewart) was clutch with a two-run double and Alex (Iannotti) made a huge impact."
Before Tuesday's critical win, Laguna had blanked Estancia, 1-0, for its first win this season over the Eagles, who won two previous tight games between the teams. Blake Hester's RBI double in the first inning ended up the difference in the game.
Junior second-team all-league pitcher Jackson Rees went the distance, allowing just four hits to improve to 3-3.
Bair will start Rees on Friday when the Breakers take on Calvary Chapel at 3:15 p.m. at TeWinkle Park in Costa Mesa. It's the rubber match between the teams, who both own a win against each other in league play. The Eagles won the first game, 7-0, on March 20.
"We have been playing good baseball the past few weeks and have really been fighting for each other on the field and seeing our hard work come to fruition," Bair said. "We feel confident about Friday's matchup with Calvary."