High School Softball: Marshall helps break streak

Hattie Marshall remembers the day her father took her to the library. It was 12 years ago when Brian and his 6-year-old daughter went to check out a book.

She doesn't remember the book she came home with that day. What she will never forget is what she picked up from the doorsteps of the library — a new sport to play.

"In front of the library, there was a table for softball signups," Marshall said. "My dad asked me if I wanted to try it. It was like T-ball and it sounded fun."

Softball has been a big part of Marshall's life since that trip to the library.

She played. Her father coached her.

The coaching stopped when Marshall entered high school. For the first time, she was going to have a new head coach. She was going to have to develop with someone else leading her and she was OK with it.

Brian was still going to show up and support Marshall, a pitcher. He backed her decision to go to the neighborhood school, Newport Harbor.

She easily could've gone elsewhere. Marshall said a private school, with a better softball program, recruited her to play.

The decision to attend Newport Harbor is one Marshall doesn't regret. Her friends, the kids she grew up with, those were the reasons why she chose Newport Harbor.

She has suffered with many of them during her first three seasons at the school. Those years went by with the Sailors dropping every single Sunset League game.

The losing was nothing new to the Sailors when Marshall joined as a freshman. The program went into the 2010 season with 22 straight setbacks in league.

The skid just grew 10 games every year. The streak climbed to 52 before the start of league this season.

This is Marshall's senior year. The Sailors opened league with yet another loss. They fell at home to Edison, 14-2, making it 53 straight losses.

Marshall and her teammates weren't sure of the number of consecutive losses.

"We just knew it had been a long time, 2007, since we last won a league game," Marshall said. "Everyone in the league knew about how we kept losing."

The constant losing didn't stop Marshall from competing. Her father was there to see her every time. She had come close before, twice last season, to ending the Sailors' drought in league.

There was the six shutout innings she threw against Edison, only to see the Chargers win it in the seventh by scoring one run.

There was the 16 shutout innings she threw against Fountain Valley, only to see the Barons win it in the 17th by scoring five runs.

That's how Marshall and the Sailors closed out last season. Talk about heartbreak. Marshall's coach, Russell Hartman, said he wasn't even at the game against Fountain Valley.

"I got thrown out the previous game at Huntington Beach and I had to miss it," Hartman said. "I was in a batting cage in Orange getting updates on my phone. It was horrible."

Hartman said he felt that way because if there was one team the Sailors could beat in league, it was Fountain Valley.

The Barons also happen to be the last team Newport Harbor beat in league. The victory came on May 4, 2007. That league win is all the Sailors had to show since they rejoined the Sunset League six years ago.

They now have two Sunset League triumphs, thanks to Marshall's performance last week against, you guessed it, Fountain Valley.

Marshall, as she usually does in every start, went the distance. She tossed a complete game, striking out five and allowing four earned runs and 10 hits in the Sailors' 6-5 win at home.

She gave up a lot of hits. The one that she didn't came at a crucial time in the top of the seventh inning.

With two out and the game-tying run on third base, Marshall induced a groundball to third baseman Breanna Lopez. She fielded the ball cleanly and threw to first base to get the final out.

Seeing it play out was excruciating for Marshall, who went one for three with two runs batted in and a double.

"It seemed like it took 20 minutes to make the play," said Marshall, adding that when it was over she breathed a sigh of relief, then came the dog pile.

"We've been working so hard for this. I've been working for four years. We had four other seniors [Lopez, Lauren Gandi, Hanna Van Voorhis, Hope Noakes] working hard during the same time. We all cried."

While they snapped a losing streak, the Sailors haven't been able to start a winning one. They're 1-3 in league after having lost two in a row since playing Fountain Valley.

Six league games remain and Marshall, the Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year last season, is hopeful Newport Harbor can prevail again in her final season.

This won't be the final chapter in her softball career. She's bound for Concordia University.

david.carrillo@latimes.com

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

Hattie Marshall

Born: Jan. 2, 1995

Hometown: Costa Mesa

Height: 5-foot-7

Sport: Softball

Year: Senior

Coach: Russell Hartman

Favorite food: Apple

Favorite movie: "The King's Speech"

Favorite athletic moment: "When we won our first Sunset League game since 2007."

Week in review: Marshall threw a complete game and went one for three with two runs batted in, helping Newport Harbor beat Fountain Valley, 6-5, and snap a 53-game losing streak in Sunset League play.

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