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Mustangs driven to obtain redemption

March 14, 2005

Chris Yemma

With a 5-2 record just past midway through the Golden West League

schedule last season, the Costa Mesa High softball team was almost

guaranteed to finish in the top three and qualify for the CIF

Southern Section Division III playoffs.

The Mustangs were in position to contend for a second straight

league title, but it all came crashing down just three days after

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defeating Saddleback, 8-0, to improve to 5-2.

Mesa had to forfeit five victories (four in league and one

tournament contest) for using an ineligible player. Falling instantly

to 1-6 in league, a postseason opportunity never materialized.

This year is likely to be a different story, one without the drama

of what last season brought. So far, the script has been an easy read

for the Mustangs, who opened with two wins in their own tournament.

The Mustangs lost five players to graduation last spring, but

another crop of seniors should help fill the gaps.

This year's roster includes seniors, four juniors, four sophomores

and a freshman.

The senior pitchers are expected to carry the team, Coach Sharon

Uhl said. Tiffany Campos and Jackie Butler will lead the way in the

pitching circle.

Butler earned first-team all-league honors last season.

"I would say she's probably the second- or third-best pitcher in

our league," Uhl said. "And Tiffany is just as good. They both throw

a lot of good stuff. Tiffany's pitches break and her changeup is

incredible."

Campos is also going to be in the spotlight as a hitter, along

with sophomore Danielle Morton and senior Brittany McAleer.

McAleer, a transfer from Back Bay, already clouted a home run this

year (in the Costa Mesa tournament March 5).

Morton was named second-team all-league last season as a freshman,

and led the team in RBIs, Uhl said.

Senior Venesi Enesi is up from the junior varsity, but has already

made an impact. She hit a two-run double and stole two bases to tie

Thursday's game against Newport Harbor, 3-3, in the sixth inning,

thought Newport went on to win the game.

"She's one of those clutch hitters who comes through with the big

hit," Uhl said after Thursday's game. "Just like Brittany McAleer --

they'll get big hits when you need them."

As far as expectations go, Uhl's are somewhat realistic. The

Mustangs have never won a CIF championship, but this year they are

hoping to go further in the playoffs than they have in recent years.

"I'd say we're going to finish second in league behind Santa Ana,"

Uhl said, before the Mustangs topped the Saints, 8-0, in the

semifinals of the Costa Mesa tournament Saturday.

Mesa lost in the tournament title game to Huntington Beach, 3-0,

Saturday.

Santa Ana was league champ last year, dethroning Costa Mesa, which

was then eliminated in the first round of the CIF playoffs in 2003.

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