LANCASTER — Most teams use the preseason to tune up for league play, but that isn’t the case for the Vikings.

Santa Monica High School’s softball team plays in what is widely considered a weak Ocean League. Last season, Samohi not only went undefeated in league play, but also didn’t allow a single run during the impressive run.

Problem is, as dominant as that team was during the regular season, it lost in the third round of the California Interscholastic Federation playoffs last season. While Head Coach Debbie Skaggs was careful when discussing the Ocean League’s overall weakness, junior Kaile Nakao wasn’t as diplomatic.

“Because our league is so weak, these pre-league games help us get ready,” Nakao said. “Our league does not help us get ready for the playoffs.”

The Vikings will get an opportunity to sharpen their collective skills today as the team prepares to play in the High Desert Classic in Lancaster. Samohi will take on Lancaster High School in that opening matchup at 3 p.m.

Interestingly, also in the same tournament is Crescenta Valley High School. The Vikings have a little history with that team. CV was the school that knocked off Samohi in last year’s playoffs.

The tournament in Lancaster has an open format, so there is no guarantee that the two teams will face off, but there is an outside shot that the Vikings will get a chance at redemption.

“Yes for sure, I want to get to that game [against CV],” Skaggs said during a break between classes. “I think we can compete with them.”

The Vikings, a team that has begun the season 4-2, have been off their game, Skaggs said. The team’s primary hitters, including Nakao, have been cold since the start of the season. In fact, the players doing the most damage at the plate weren’t the usual suspects.

Sophomore Danielle Hearn has proven to be one of the least expected, yet most appreciated, contributors to the team thus far. Hearn’s contributions during the MaxPreps tournament in Arizona last week helped make the visit a successful one. The team notched three victories during the road trip.

“She came up big during the [Anaheim] Canyon game,” Skaggs said. “She really hit with a lot of power.”

If the Vikings are to make the High Desert Classic a successful trip, it may have consequences down the road as the team hopes to make a deep run into the playoffs.

“We have a strong team this year,” Nakao said. “Once we come around with hitting, we’ll be very strong.”

daniela@smdp.com