SAMOHI — Unfortunately for Morningside, Santa Monica High School’s Natalie Abel came to play.
The senior hurler tossed a no-hitter en route to a big 23-0 win in softball on Tuesday at Samohi. She was also handy with the bat during a game that was called after five innings due to the mercy rule.
The win improves Samohi to 9-0 in Ocean League play and secured the team a 10th consecutive league title.
The Samohi Vikings wasted little time opening the flood gates in the first inning against Morningside starter Felicia Johnson. The Vikings would score 13 times in the inning and never looked back. Abel highlighted the inning with a two-RBI triple to center field. She also scored twice in the frame.
Despite the lopsided final score, Abel kept her mind in the game by focusing on her mechanics.
“I just try to hit my spots during games like these,” Abel said. “[The umpires] usually shrink the strike zone when we’re up like that.”
For outfielder Meghan Bradley, fighting complacency is tough during what has been a series of blowouts during league play this season.
“It gets difficult to stay in it,” she said. “All you can do is play for yourself and your team. You can’t take anybody lightly.”
On the other side of the diamond, Morningside head coach Vince Washington came into the game knowing a win would be difficult, but said that the experience of playing against the reigning CIF-Southern Section Division 4 champs is good for his team comprised mostly of underclassmen.
“They are a great team,” Washington said of Samohi. “Everything has to be rolling to beat these guys.”
Secured a place in the playoffs, Abel is now fixed on the playoffs. She knows defending the title will be difficult, but said she’s ready for the challenge.
“I feel like if we play as a team, we could do something,” she said. “We just have to focus on not making mental errors. If we’re hitting, we can win.”
But, before Samohi can focus completely on the postseason, there’s a little business to take care of at home Thursday against league rival Culver City. The game is senior day and will begin at 3:15 p.m.
“It may not be so easy,” Head Coach Marybell Moreno said of Culver City. “We better be ready to finish strong.”