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La Jolla Country Day softball team is exceeding expectations

When a new crop of incoming freshmen makes up a big chunk of a varsity roster, expectations may be a bit uncertain. For the La Jolla Country Day softball team, after their first 10 games, expectations surely have increased, thanks in large part to the team’s solid hitting, pitching and 9-2 record.

During the past weekend, the Torreys notched win No. 8 as they beat visiting DeSales (Geneva, N.Y.), 11-1. It was a win that showed off the team’s total package of skills: bunting, base running, power hitting and stellar pitching.

On Monday, they topped Del Norte, 9-4.

“We’re starting out really well, we start league play (this week) so it’s gonna get tough then,” said head coach Corinne Brunn, who’s in her 13th season coaching. “The girls are really working hard so it’s coming together as a team, so I think we’re doing OK this season.”

Compared to last season, when wins were at a premium, this season has been more than OK. The turnaround has started with two key freshmen, Christine Campbell and Miquela Fiori, the team’s Nos. 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup.

“We started off not knowing how good a team this was going to be because we have a lot of young freshmen,” Fiori said. “We don’t have any seniors. None. Coming out winning a few games in a row definitely brought our expectations up.”

“It’s fun coming out here. It’s my first year (on varsity) and I think we’re doing better than expected,” Campbell said.

Fiori showed her hitting ability in the bottom of the first inning last Saturday against DeSales when she clobbered a ball over the left field fence for a three-run homer to give the Torreys an early lead.

The pitching of Campbell, who has all of the team’s nine wins this season from the circle, took over from there as she only gave up one run in six innings, striking out eight batters in the process. High strikeout totals are not new for Campbell, who has been pitching since she was 8 years old. Earlier this season, she threw a no-hitter during the Duds for Dudes Torrey Invitational Softball Tournament against Desert Mirage.

“Christine is such an amazing pitcher,” said Fiori, who caught most of the game against DeSales. “Being behind the plate, I can definitely feel the power. Wherever you put your glove, she will hit that spot. She’s so consistent and has so much power ...”

Campbell has put up impressive numbers so far this season, but is also trying to keep improving with new pitches.

“We’re starting to do more with her — we’re asking her to throw pitches that she’s not used to throwing,” Brunn said. “She knows how to throw them, but she doesn’t necessarily throw them in the game so we’re trying to move her to the next level as a pitcher.”

But there’s more to this year’s team than just the one-two combination of Campbell and Fiori. If you ask Brunn, she feels her whole starting lineup contributes, which was evident against DeSales with Jessica Lewis, Katie Woods, Jessica Schneider, Megan Woods, Katie Lamkin, Rebecca Shanks — all of whom produced hits.

“All of our girls know how to hit,” Brunn said. “For us to score runs (with Campbell and Fiori) those other kids have to get on base.”

With a fast start and a solid team from top to bottom, those uncertain expectations have certainly changed. And with league play starting this week at home against Tri-City Christian (Wednesday) and Escondido Charter (Friday, 4 p.m.)

Campbell said one of the new team goals is to compete for a Coastal-North league championship and maybe even in a run in the postseason. But it also appears that this team, despite its youth, is going to take it slowly before its expectations get too high.

“Our main goal is to improve every game and we’re going to try and be as consistent and improve every time we play,” Fiori said.

Contact Phil Dailey with scores and game highlights at phildailey@gmail.com.