Hattie Marshall did not want the sun to set on her Newport Harbor High softball career before picking up her first Sunset League win.
The numbers were staggeringly against Marshall, a senior pitcher and co-captain, and the Sailors coming into the 2013 season. They hadn't won a league game in six years, losing 52 in a row.
It reached 53 straight league losses before the Sailors played host to Fountain Valley on April 11. The resulting 6-5 victory sent a wide range of emotions through Marshall, who pitched the complete game and went two for three with three runs batted in.
"It was kind of like relief in a way," she said. "Well, not relief. When you finally accomplish a goal you have, you're kind of in a moment of ecstasy and nirvana. We were all crying together after we won it."
Ending the streak was definitely a highlight for the four-year starter, but there were others. Marshall, bound for Concordia University, became the first Newport-Mesa player since Julianne Bass and Ashley Gleason in 2005 to play in the Orange County Coaches All-Star Softball Classic.
And she and the Sailors also reasserted their dominance in the Battle of the Bay, racking up their sixth straight win over rival Corona del Mar. Marshall made sure she didn't lose to the Sea Kings in her high school career.
"Same with our football team," she said. "All four years, we went undefeated in both sports. That was a nice thing."
Marshall can add one more nice thing to her high school résumé. For the second straight year, she is the is the Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team Player of the Year.
Marshall is the first repeat Player of the Year since Estancia's Taylor West accomplished the feat in 2007 and '08. Marshall definitely earned it. She was an unquestioned leader for Newport Harbor (4-24, 1-9 in league), which played a more difficult nonleague schedule than in her junior year. But Marshall seemed to excel no matter who the Sailors were playing.
She led Newport Harbor in most offensive categories, like batting average (.452), home runs (five) and runs batted in (18). She added a team-best six doubles and had a .518 on-base percentage. As a pitcher, she had a 4.02 earned-run average.
Marshall, a three-time Dream Team honoree, also earned first-team All-Sunset League honors for the second straight year.
"Hattie played an important role in all of our successes," Newport Harbor Coach Russell Hartman wrote in an email. "She was our No. 3 hitter all year and always seemed to get the clutch hit when we needed it. She always was able to take her performance to the next level when the competition was tougher."
She stayed the course, even when the Sailors had players transfer out of the program or decide not to play in the past couple of years. Marshall was the Sailors' starting pitcher for three full years, starting her sophomore year after Alex Bauer decided to stop playing softball and compete in rowing.
Now she will take her talents to Concordia, which won the NAIA national championship this year. Concordia graduates Katie Cotta, the Golden State Athletic Conference and NAIA Pitcher of the Year who set an NAIA season record with 11 no-hitters.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Marshall said. "I definitely have some big shoes to fill."
If her high school career is any indication, she will step up to the challenge.
Here are the other 10 members of the 2013 Newport-Mesa Softball Dream Team:
Reynolds, a senior first baseman better known as "Ray," was undoubtedly a leader for the Eagles. The first-team All-Orange Coast League selection led Estancia in most offensive categories like batting average (.523), home runs (seven) and runs batted in (30). She also led Newport-Mesa players in all three categories, adding seven triples and a .635 on-base percentage. Reynolds, who will play next year at Orange Coast College, helped Estancia (12-11, 5-5 in league) finish tied for third in league, making its first postseason appearance in four years. She also provided strength after her mother passed away on March 2, coming back and playing in a game for Estancia later that day. Reynolds is a three-time Dream Team selection.
Corona del Mar
Coach Carly Smith said that McKeown, a lefty pitcher and outfielder, "never gave up, even when the odds were against her." She would normally play center field, but the Sea Kings needed her as their primary pitcher. Her pitching stats were unavailable, but she was a leader all year for CdM (1-21, 0-10 in league). McKeown, CdM's lone first-team All-Pacific Coast League honoree, also was second on the team in league with a .368 batting average. This is her first Dream Team selection.
Delgado, a senior, was the Mustangs' starting pitcher and a team captain for two years. She was a workhorse in her senior year, as Coach Heather Orduna said Delgado pitched every inning of every game, except for a three-inning stint at third base. Delgado, a first-team All-Orange Coast League selection, helped drive the Mustangs (4-16, 2-8 in league) with her work ethic. She also was reliable as a cleanup hitter, as she was third on the Mustangs with a .381 batting average, drove in a team-best 20 runs and added a team-best 10 doubles. This is her first Dream Team selection.
A third baseman and outfielder, Lopez sparked the Sailors. The four-year varsity player's aggressive style of play benefited Newport Harbor, as she led the team in runs scored (16) and stolen bases (nine). She also batted .288, which was third on the team, and added a pair of home runs. Lopez, a second-team All-Sunset League selection, also is a repeat Dream Team selection.
Hinkle improved a lot as a pitcher in her second year on the job for the Eagles. The junior, who was a first-team All-Orange Coast League selection, pitched every game, finishing 12-11 with a 4.79 earned-run average. She also was a leader offensively, batting .382 with 19 RBIs. She also had a team-best 10 doubles. Coach Carrie Lester praised Hinkle's work ethic, and her communication with the rest of the team. This is her first Dream Team selection.
Corona del Mar
Penna, a junior first baseman and repeat Dream Team selection, helped anchor the young Sea Kings. She was expected to be a pitcher before the season before tearing her labrum, but Penna shined defensively at first base. Penna, a second-team All-Pacific Coast League selection, also led CdM with a .412 batting average in league play, including a pair of doubles.
The Mustangs' starting center fielder, a senior and first-team All-Orange Coast League selection, was a leader both on and off the field. On the field the speedy Diaz led Mesa with a .517 batting average. She scored 17 runs, tying for the team lead, and led Mesa with nine stolen bases as well. Off the field, Orduna said Diaz also set a good example for her teammates. She had over a 4.5 grade-point average and will be attending Brown University for academics in the fall. This is her first Dream Team selection.
Gandi, a senior and another four-year varsity player for the Sailors, excelled at shortstop. "Her glove saved a lot of runs for us," Hartman wrote in an email of Gandi, who also batted at the top of the lineup. She was second on Newport Harbor with a .303 batting average, was second in RBIs (nine) and tied for second with 11 runs scored. Gandi is a repeat Dream Team selection and will play next year at Whittier College.
Vernon, a junior catcher, continuously tried to get better. Lester said she didn't miss a practice or game all season, and defensively, Vernon also got better and better at her pickoff move. She also was a reliable bat, hitting .429, second on Estancia, and was third on the team with 20 RBIs. Vernon earned second-team All-Orange Coast League laurels and is a two-time Dream Team selection.
Myers, a sophomore catcher and first baseman, was a second-year varsity player for Newport Harbor. As catcher, she had quite a rapport with Marshall and knew how to call a game. Offensively, she batted just .129, but she had several clutch hits for Newport Harbor. This is the first Dream Team selection for Myers.