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Center Head Coach of the Santa Monica High School girls Varsity softball team Marybell Moreno has a conference with left catcher Kelly Ricard and pitcher Natalie Abel at the pitching circle when time was called during the Santa Monica High School Varsity softball team's playoff game at Santa Monica High School on Thursday May 19th 2011 as SAMO hosted Loara High School in the first round of the Divsion 4 Southern Section playoffs and lost 7-1 (photo by Morgan Genser)

SAMOHI — So much for Santa Monica High School’s title defense.

For four innings it looked like the Vikings’ softball team would advance to the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 playoffs, but then Anaheim Loara’s offense woke up.

Down 1-0, Loara was able to score three runs in the fifth inning to pull ahead and ultimately win the first round matchup, 6-1.

Loara starting pitcher Bethann McCann used the lead to her advantage as she shut down the Vikings’ offense for the remainder of the game en route to a complete game victory.

Despite the lopsided final score, Samohi impressed Loara Head Coach Todd Rolph.

“Coming into the defending champs’ home field was a tough draw for us,” said Rolph, who has led Loara to the playoffs for the first time in six seasons. “We had to come in ready to play to beat this talented team.”

The loss was tough to take for some of the Vikings, but still, it has been a good ride for the graduating class.

“To be honest, I’m proud of how we played,” said senior second baseman Kelsey Hom, who knocked in the Vikings’ lone run in the first inning with a double off the left field fence. “I wanted to make this an amazing game, but at the same time, I wanted us to have fun. It is a game, isn’t it?”

Hom’s upbeat view of the game, and her time at Samohi, was a popular sentiment for the team’s seniors.

Starting pitcher Natalie Abel, who plans to attempt to walk-on at the University of Minnesota next season, said that the feeling of this being the last game of her high school career hadn’t hit her yet as the Vikings lingered on the field.

“I do feel a big sense of nostalgia when I look around this field,” Abel said. “It hasn’t hit me yet, but maybe next week I’ll be balling over it. But, right now, I can honestly say that I had a great time here [at Samohi].”

The game was particularly bitter sweet because it may be the last played at the school’s softball field. The field is slated to be razed in the offseason as part of a major reconstruction at Samohi.

All those factors combined made for an emotional playoff game for a team that returns a number of starters from this season’s team.

First-year head coach Marybell Moreno said that she was impressed by the work her team put in this year and hopes to see more of the same next season as the Vikings attempt to win their 11th straight Ocean League title.

“I’m very proud of them,” she said. “They came together at the end of the season.”

daniela@smdp.com

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