By Matt Szabo
11:40 PM PDT, April 15, 2014
As the younger sister of Tyler Rios, the 2013 Newport-Mesa Baseball Player of the Year, Felicia Rios feels a bit of pressure.
And, as a sophomore in an Estancia High softball infield that otherwise has nothing but seniors, Felicia Rios feels the need to rise to the occasion.
"It's tough trying to keep up with them," said Rios, the shortstop. "Yeah, it's tough having to prove myself and show what I got. It's fun, though."
Rios said that she struggled with her hitting at times in the Eagles' preseason. Her place in the batting order bounced around.
Don't tell rival Costa Mesa that, though.
Rios had a breakout type of day as Estancia pulled away late in Tuesday's Orange Coast League game, earning a 14-7 victory at the Mustangs' field. It was Estancia's seventh straight league win over Costa Mesa, and Rios helped make it happen.
Hitting from the No. 2 spot, she was four for five with a pair of doubles and two runs batted in. But she was not the only Eagle who came to rake, as Estancia (11-3, 2-0 in league) had every batter reach base at least twice. Eight of the Eagles' 18 hits went for extra bases.
Leadoff hitter Gianna Guyot was three for five with two doubles and three RBIs, and cleanup hitter Bryanna Vernon had a pair of hits and scored twice. Maya Van Den Heever, the center fielder, was three for five with a double and four RBIs.
The No. 9 hitter, freshman Isabelle Morales, was two for four with a double, a triple and two RBIs. The No. 8 hitter, senior Amy Moya, also had a triple, and two RBIs.
Estancia Coach Carrie Lester saw her team win despite committing seven errors. Four of them came in the bottom of the third inning, when the Mustangs (1-11, 0-2) scored three unearned runs.
Errors also hurt the Eagles in their last game, a 10-9 loss to Newport Harbor two weeks ago when they committed six of them.
"[Seven is] too many," Lester said. "That's not how we play, and that's how games are lost. We just got lucky that our bats didn't let us lose ... this was competitive. It's much more fun when it's competitive. Everyone wants to play seven innings."
The game definitely was more competitive than the teams' last meeting, a 13-4 Estancia victory in the Costa Mesa tournament on March 15. The host Mustangs battled hard Tuesday, even after the visitors took an 8-3 lead in the top of the fifth inning.
Mesa responded. Leadoff hitter Mackenzie Mitchell, a freshman, led off with a double to center. Another freshman, Brenna Alvis, singled to left to put runners on the corners, and Mitchell was then driven in on another single by yet another freshman, Kintak Keju. Cleanup hitter Anessa Farldow walked, loading the bases, before Alvis scored on a wild pitch.
Jasmine Herrera's sacrifice fly scored another run, and an infield single by Haylee Jack plated another. Suddenly Estancia was up by just one run, 8-7.
But the Eagles scored twice in the top of the sixth. Van Den Heever had the big hit, a two-run double off the wall in center. And Estancia would score four more times in the seventh.
Morales had an RBI triple, and Guyot an RBI single to center. After two outs and a Vernon single, Van Den Heever stepped in with runners on second and third.
"Come on Maya, go easy on us," a Costa Mesa parent yelled.
Maya didn't listen, roping another single to center to give the Eagles their 13th and 14th runs.
"It's always fun [beating] a rival team," Rios said. "It's a relief to win. I finally had a good game. We all had a good game, getting runs, coming back and making plays."
Mitchell and Keju had two hits each for the Mustangs. Alvis made a number of standout defensive plays at shortstop. On two different occasions, she made a catch and doubled an Estancia runner off the base. And, in the seventh inning, she nearly turned an unassisted double play.
"I think the great thing about Brenna is that she knows the play after the next play, after the next play," Costa Mesa Coach Heather Orduna said. "She's always ahead of herself."
Orduna said that Tuesday's game shows that the Mustangs, despite having just one total win, can be competitive in the league. They opened league play last week during spring break with a 20-0 loss to league favorite Calvary Chapel, which is ranked No. 6 in CIF Southern Section Division 5.
"We were able to hold [Estancia] at nothing for the first two innings, and my girls kept their heads up the whole time," Orduna said. "They out-hit us, and that's kind of what we had to deal with. But we had some great double plays, some great recoveries after bad calls or bad play. They just kept pressing, every pitch, every inning, and that's all I can ask of them.
"Risking to be great is what we're working on, and I think that they did that today."
Orange Coast League
Estancia 14, Costa Mesa 7
SCORE BY INNINGS
Est 002 422 4 – 14 18 7
CM 003 040 0 – 7 7 5
Hinkle and Vernon; Morales and Herrera. W – Hinkle. L – Morales. 2B – Guyot (Est) 2, Rios (Est) 2, Van Den Heever (Est), Morales (Est), Mitchell (CM). 3B – Moya (Est), Morales (Est).