One team is off to its best start in Sunset League softball action, and is at the top of the league heap with three games to play in the regular season. That team, the Huntington Beach High Oilers, has two rivals, Marina and Edison, still within striking distance as the league race moves into its final week.
Huntington maintains a two-game cushion in the league standings, thanks to a pair of 10-0 victories in its last two outings. The Oilers, ranked fifth in CIF Southern Section Division 1, first routed Newport Harbor May 1, and on Tuesday took care of Fountain Valley.
The Oilers pounded out 12 hits Tuesday at Fountain Valley to roll to their seventh league victory without a loss. The offensive attack was led by Kristina Inouye's three hits, and Sammie Vandiver and Anna Kufta each had two hits and drove in two runs. Sabrina Williams, Taylor Livingston and Jasmine Melgoza came off the bench with key hits as the Oilers defeated the Barons for the second time this year.
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Senior Micaela Vierra struck out five in four innings to collect her 15th win of the season.
Huntington, which won its ninth-straight game, improved to 19-3 overall.
Oilers Coach Jeff Forsberg said the 7-0 league start is the best in school history after seven games.
"Early, we thought the wind would play havoc on the game, and with our early pressure, we were right," he said of Tuesday's performance. "Getting off to a good start was something we needed as Fountain Valley has played us real tough at their field. Having Sammie [Vandiver] and Alyssa [Horeczko] setting the table for our middle hitters was exactly what we wanted.
"I can't say enough about the maturity and team approach by the whole roster."
Horeczko had two hits, to put her at 27 hits for the season, and two stolen bases, in the April 30, 10-0 win over Newport Harbor. Inouye drove in two runs with a double and single, Maria Steadmon had two hits and Ivy Davis tripled in an 11-hit attack. Vierra won her 14th game by scattering three hits and striking out nine.
"We know the second half of league will be tough but if we can stay within what we do best and keep the pressure on, we will have more good innings," Forsberg said. "This group is relaxed and are having fun. The game is being played out and we have enjoyed the ride. We just want to keep it going and stay within the system that is being taught."
Huntington faces a big challenge at 6 p.m. Thursday when it plays host to Marina. The Vikings (19-6 overall, 5-2 league), ranked ninth in CIF Southern Section Division 1, have won four-straight league games since an April 22 home loss to Huntington.
The Oilers can clinch the Sunset championship with a win Thursday.
Defending champion Marina scored the game's first three runs Tuesday and went on to take a 3-1 decision over visiting Los Alamitos. Sydney McCollum doubled and singled and Tera Blanco struck out 13, gave up only two hits and walked two, to run her record to 18-4.
Blanco previously threw a five-hitter and struck out six, and went four for four on offense, May 1 in a 12-1 mercy-rule win over visiting Edison. McCollum went three for three and Desiree Hagerg hit a home run for the Vikings.
Blanco has been stellar in the Vikings' last three games. The senior ace tossed a one-hitter and struck out 15 in an April 29 win against Newport Harbor.
Edison (9-11 overall, 4-3 league) rebounded from its loss to Marina by easing past Newport Harbor Tuesday, 8-1. Hailey Desroisiers went three for four with a home run, triple and double and drove in three runs. Liz Talataina went three for four with a double, Kayla Neff also was three for four with an RBI, and Kiana Pancino gave up one hit and struck out eight to get the win.
Ocean View split two Golden West League games last week. The Seahawks overwhelmed Orange, 23-3, April 30, and fell, 11-1, to first-place Loara.
Alyssa Slater and Anika Ortiz both hit three-run home runs and the Seahawks (15-6 overall, 3-3 league), ranked ninth in CIF Southern Section Division 4, racked up 22 hits in their win against Orange.
Ocean View played Santa Ana Wednesday. The score wasn't available at press time.
In addition to the Marina-Huntington matchup Thursday, Edison plays host to Los Alamitos and Fountain Valley travels to Newport Harbor in a pair of 3:15 p.m. games.
Ocean View plays host to Segerstrom in a 3:15 p.m. Golden West League game Friday.
CIF Weekly Rankings
Huntington Beach (No. 5, Division 1); Marina (No. 9, Division 1); Ocean View (No. 10, Division 4).