Through the opening week of Metro-Mesa League softball play, the Eastlake Titans stand alone at the top of the five-team league standings. Whether they will still be there when the final pitch is thrown in league play remains to be seen, but it appears the Titans have definitely taken an early edge.
“I think the league has some great softball pitchers, great teams and great coaches,” EHS coach Lance Christensen noted. “We have some good pitching, and we need to be patient at the plate. For us, we’re going to have to be consistent. That’s the biggest challenge.”
The Titans defeated Olympian in a pair of one-run nail-biters — 5-4 at home on Tuesday and 7-6 on the road Thursday — to open league play. Both victories came in come-from-behind fashion.
Samantha Manti picked up the wins in both games, tossing a three-hitter in Tuesday’s game while striking out nine batters and issuing 10 bases-on-balls. She earned the win in relief in Thursday’s match-up.
Bianca Mancilla went three-for-four with two RBI, Mackenzie Smith went two-for-three and Anne Marie Fischer (two RBI) drove in the game-winning run in Tuesday’s contest as the Titans rallied from a 4-2 deficit with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning.
It took a four-run rally in Thursday’s game at Olympian to keep Eastlake undefeated in league play. The Eagles led 6-3 through six innings but could not nail down the win.
Briana Alaniz went three-for-four and scored two runs while Manti and Angelica Davis contributed at the plate with two RBI each. Manti also scored two runs. The visitors were seven-for-seven in the stolen bases department, with Alaniz and Mancilla each recording two stolen bases.
The Titans, who rapped out 11 hits in the return leg home-and-home series, weathered a 10-hit Olympian attack. Justine Federe led the Eagles (0-2 in league, 3-8 overall) by going four-for-four with a three-run home run.
Kate Johnson started in the pitching circle for Eastlake, allowing nine hits, six runs (four earned) while striking out four batters in five-and-two-thirds innings.
Manti pitched the final one-and-one-third innings, allowing one hit and striking out three.
Alicia Farmer, who went the distance for the Eagles with a 91-pitch count, took the loss after yielding seven earned runs.
Prior to sweeping Olympian, the Titans clubbed visiting Christian, 16-0, on April 10 as shortstop Haydn Christensen went three-for-three with a double, triple and six RBI and Kate Johnson tossed a one-hit shutout with seven strikeouts in the five-inning run-rule shortened game.
Manti (10-4) has a 2.02 earned-run average in the pitching circle for Eastlake with 108 strikeouts in 83 innings. At the plate, Manti is hitting .404 with 11 RBI and two triples. Johnson has picked up the team’s other two pitching wins.
Fischer, a sophomore, tops the Titans with a .457 hitting average, followed by senior teammate Christensen (.431). Christensen, who will attend DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., on a softball scholarship, leads the team with 17 RBI, four doubles, two triples and one home run. Fischer ranks second on the squad with 16 RBI and three doubles.
The Titans improved to 12-5 overall following the series sweep of Olympian and have now won three games in a row. Next up for Eastlake is a key two-game series against Mater Dei Catholic (idle in the opening week). The Titans play at MDC on Tuesday (April 22) and host the Crusaders on Thursday (April 24).
Both games start at 3 p.m.
Eastlake ranks fifth best among Division II teams in terms of winning percentage (.706), trailing Imperial (14-3, .834), Patrick Henry (15-5, .750), Our Lady of Peace (12-4-1, .735) and Valley Center (10-4, .714). Mater Dei Catholic (11-6, .647) ranks seventh best in the division in terms of winning percentage after Madison (9-4-1, .679).
The Titans will bet a better bead on their playoff fortunes in the upcoming two games against the Crusaders and a marquee non-league match-up against visiting Patrick Henry on April 29.
“I think if we play up to our potential, we can do well in Division II,” Christensen said. “So far in our division, against Division II teams, we haven’t lost yet.”
More Metro-Mesa League
Bonita Vista and Otay Ranch split their league opening series, with the Barons (1-1 in league play, 9-5 overall) winning 10-2 on Tuesday and the Mustangs (1-1 in league, 14-7 overall) capturing a 5-2 decision on Thursday.
Alex Vargas slugged a two-run home run and cracked a three-run home run to lead Bonita Vista in Tuesday’s game while teammate Aaliyah Jordan hit a solo homer. Izzy Ortiz picked up the win with a complete game effort, scattering nine hits.
Josie Bachtell (7-2) tamed the Barons in Thursday’s rematch to earn the pitching win while Erika Rodriguez and Vianna Romero each drove in a pair of runs.
Brittany Wyllie slugged a home run in the loss for Bonita Vista, which next plays at Olympian on Tuesday and hosts the Eagles on Thursday.
Hilltop swept Chula Vista in a pair of games to open play in the Metro’s newest softball league with a 2-0 start. The Lancers edged the Spartans, 5-3, on Tuesday behind winning pitcher Alexis Heredia (4-1) and nailed down an 8-6 victory on Thursday to make a winner out of Yasmine Ortega (2-6).
Brittney Foster paced Hilltop (10-9 overall) in Thursday’s win with a double, two runs scored and three RBI.
Sophomore Leanna Mena tops the Lancers with a .455 hitting average, followed by freshman Ariana Rodriguez at .423 and junior Jaquelyn Landers at .392.
Sweetwater (8-7 overall) shut out Castle Park, 9-0, on Thursday to also improve to 2-0 in Metro-Pacific League play. The Red Devils walloped the host Trojans, 14-1, on Tuesday.
Claudio Fierro went three-for-three in Thursdays’ contest while teammates Alyssa Sandoval and Isabel Armenta both went three-for-four.
Metro Conference Sotball Standings
Eastlake Titans 2-0
Bonita Vista Barons 1-1
Otay Ranch Mustangs 1-1
Mater Dei Catholic Crusaders 0-0
Olympian Eagles 0-2
Hilltop Lancers 2-0
Sweetwater Red Devils 2-0
Castle Park Trojans 0-2
Chula Vista Spartans 0-2
Metro-South Bay League
Mar Vista Mariners 1-1
Southwest Raiders 1-1
Montgomery Aztecs 0-0
San Ysidro Cougars 0-0