MEMORIAL PARK — Santa Monica’s perennial trip to the softball playoffs began Thursday with vigor during a 21-1 rout over Orange County’s La Quinta at Memorial Park.
The CIF-Southern Section Division 4 game started competitively enough with both teams knotted at 1-1 after the first inning.
Then, things became decidedly more lopsided.
The Samohi Vikings tacked on a pair of runs in the second inning and then exploded for five runs in the third that put the game out of reach for La Quinta, the third place finisher in the Garden Grove League.
Samohi senior Kelly Ricard began the third inning rally with a single to left. Marissa Padilla followed with a bunt single of her own. Annie Quine would plate both runners on a ground ball that La Quinta shortstop Andrea Garcia couldn’t corral for an out.
A few batters later, with the bases loaded and the score 5-1, starting pitcher Sara Garcia popped a fly ball to second base that Christine Miranda couldn’t convert into the third out of the frame allowing a trio of Samohi base runners to score on the play.
The fourth inning was more of the same for Samohi.
The Vikings would score 10 runs during the inning. At one point, nine consecutive batters would reach base safely and score.
The big inning was marred by a collision at home plate. Samohi’s Garcia was coming into score when she crashed into La Quinta catcher Lupe Vasconcelos, who was thrown to the ground as a result. Coaches from both teams rushed to her aid, eventually calling paramedics to take a look at her. She was ultimately cleared of any major injuries. She didn’t return to the game as a precaution.
The game would eventually continue, but the mood was somber until coming to a close with Samohi advancing to face the winner of the Maranantha/Dos Pueblos game, which was also played on Thursday. The result of that game was not available at presstime.
“I knew Santa Monica would be a good offensive team,” said La Quinta head coach Jeff Madeau. “We’re just happy to make the playoffs.”
The experience may prove particularly beneficial for a young Samohi team that has just one senior, Ricard.
Head Coach Debbie Skaggs was pleased with the win, but was realistic about what the win means going forward.
“It gets us going in a positive direction,” Skaggs said, “but we still have a lot of work to do.
She pointed out that Garcia wasn’t on her game on the mound, but was effective with her fastball throughout.
Garcia used her fastball to record 6 strike outs in four innings pitched. She was relieved by freshman Whitney Jones, who completed the game.
The win gives Samohi momentum as they head to the second round, something that sits well with Garcia and Co.
“We have such a young team,” she said. “This gives us a little confidence.
“I’m excited for Tuesday.”