Behind by four runs in its Western League opener March 23 against Point Loma, La Jolla High had its Division II rival right where it wanted it.
The Vikings — who have their eyes on a Division IV championship this spring — calmly battled back, and junior captain Linda Brown capped the rally with a hit she will remember for a long time.
With Point Loma still leading by one with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and final inning, La Jolla freshman Kyra Ferenczy knocked a single to left. Senior Mazzi Tamaiko followed with a single of her own and sophomore Josie Sinkeldam’s walk loaded the bases for Brown.
“Linda is a beast, last year she hit nine home runs. There was nobody I wanted up more than Linda at that point,” said seventh-year Vikings coach Anthony Sarain. “I knew she was going to hit the ball and win the game. It was almost a guarantee. That girl can flat out hit.”
And that’s exactly what Brown did, blasting a two-run single to left and sending La Jolla off of Mark Wallner Field with a 6-5 victory.
“I was just thinking hit the ball, score the girls, pump it up a little bit,” Brown told La Jolla Light. “I was waiting on my pitch. It felt really good knowing that I helped my team out.”
The victory, combined with another 6-5 win over Monte Vista on Thursday (as part of the Monarch Spring Classic) had the Vikings at 8-4 entering Monday’s final nonconference contest of the season.
Starting with the April 6 matchup at Mission Bay, its all league games for the rest of the regular season. And for La Jolla High, that means a lot of challenging opponents.
“Point Loma is a Division II team, almost everyone in our league is a Division II or Division I teams,” Sarain explained. “(In our league), we are playing some of the best teams in the county — we play Cathedral Catholic which was the runner-up in the Open Division last year — so it’s a really good opportunity for us to practice our fundamentals and really work on our discipline so that when we get to division play and things go wrong, we can overcome the obstacles.”
But, as the Vikings showed with the March 23 win over Point Loma — their second against the D-II opponent in as many years after a 10-year drought — La Jolla has the talent to compete.
Though the roster isn’t blessed with quantity as it goes just 10 deep, the locals more than make up for it in quality. Three Vikings hit better than .500 in the first 10 games — in which they went 6-4 — with pitcher Ferenczy leading the way at .588.
Ferenczy went 5-1 on the mound to start the season with an ERA under 2.00, and then held Point Loma without a run for the final two innings to allow her team to come back. Not bad for a ninth-grader.
As part of La Jolla’s talented young core, she’s joined by her batterymate — catcher Hailey Ramos — and Sinkeldam, a sophomore No. 3 hitter who hit .536 with 15 RBIs in the first 10 games.
First baseman and No. 5 hitter Emily Alvarez (.346) is another super soph, while the junior talent is headlined by Brown (.548), second baseman Sara Tyrus (.381) and right fielder Ava Verbruggen, who knocked in a pair of runs against Point Loma.
Tamaiko (.385) is the team’s lone senior.
“I have a lot of confidence in my team,” Brown said. “We’ve just got to pick up on a few things, but other than that we are good … we can compete against anybody.”
Sarain put it more simply: “We plan to win the Division IV championship.”