CORONA DEL MAR — On the very first pitch of the game, Newport Harbor High senior Breanna Lopez bunted for a base hit.
Her hit caught host Corona del Mar a bit off-guard in the softball Battle of the Bay. By the time the half-inning was over, the Sailors had put up three runs.
That turned out to be more than enough.
Newport Harbor breezed to a 6-0 victory on Wednesday at CdM, the Sailors' sixth straight Battle of the Bay win. And, though Newport Harbor improved to just 3-8, Coach Russell Hartman said the Sailors have been growing through their tough nonleague schedule.
"Our goal this year was to face better pitching in the offseason," Hartman said. "It's hurting our record, but it's showing in our hitting. We've been hitting better. Hopefully, when we get to league, we'll be a little bit more prepared than we were last year."
Newport Harbor has not won a Sunset League game since 2007, suffering 52 straight losses. Last year the Sailors came close against Edison before losing, 1-0, and they also lost to Fountain Valley in a 14-inning game.
"That is definitely my main goal, to win a league game," Lopez said. "If I get at least one, I'll be happy."
Beating CdM (0-10) has been less of a problem.
After Lopez's bunt single, she was driven in on Shea Horvath's double to the wall in left-center field. Horvath scored on Lauren "Lou" Gandi's single to right.
Concordia-bound cleanup hitter Hattie Marshall, last year's Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year, would later score on a passed ball.
Lopez, Horvath and Gandi combined to go eight for 12 in the contest, with four runs batted in and four runs scored. Gandi also had a double leading off the third, scoring on an another double by Hope Noakes.
"Lou and Bree have been hitting well," Hartman said. "Shea was a surprise today. That was really good for us; we needed that from her."
Newport Harbor added a pair of unearned runs in the fourth inning. The run support was more than enough for the Sailors' trio of pitchers, freshman Haley Martinez, junior Savannah Caviston and Marshall.
FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Haley Martinez's last name as Ramirez.
Marshall, the Sailors' only real pitcher last year, now can keep her inning count down before league. Caviston, who was a Dream Team selection as a freshman, was solely a rower last year but has returned to softball.
The Sailors' trio of pitchers combined for a two-hitter against CdM. Sea Kings junior catcher Karley Johnston got both of the hits.
Marshall walked two in both the fifth and sixth innings. Annie Sperr and Johnston got to second and third with one out in the bottom of the sixth, but Marshall responded with a pair of swinging strikeouts to get out of danger.
Marshall is headed to the alma mater of CdM's first-year coach, Carly Smith. She was a catcher at Concordia before graduating in 2011.
On the Sea Kings' roster this year is just one senior. Their freshman and junior classes are large.
Smith said she has three pitchers, but sophomore Sydney McKeown had to go the complete game Wednesday. Junior Amanda Penna has a torn labrum and can currently only play defense, and Smith said she needed junior shortstop Mylie Wilson more on defense.
Penna did make a couple of nice defensive plays at first base, including in the sixth when she threw home to nail a Newport Harbor runner at the plate.
"Our junior class is pretty great, but we also have a large freshman class of eight girls," Smith said. "Of those eight girls, none of them have played before, so this is definitely a building year."
Battle of the Bay
Newport Harbor 6, Corona del Mar 0
SCORE BY INNINGS
Newport 301 200 0 – 6 12 0
CdM 000 000 0 – 0 2 4
Martinez, Caviston (3), Marshall (5) and Delacio; McKeown and Johnston. W – Martinez. L – McKeown. 2B – Horvath (NH), Gandi (NH), Martinez (NH).