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She's quite a catch

Daily Pilot Softball Dream Team

Secaira, Newport Harbor's sophomore catcher, has helped spur Sailors' improvement. She is area's Player of the Year.

July 01, 2011|By Matt Szabo, matthew.szabo@latimes.com
(Scott Smeltzer…)

Bella Secaira made her imprint on everything the Newport Harbor High softball team did this spring.

The Sailors were red-hot at the start of the season, going 13-6 before beginning their brutal Sunset League schedule.

Secaira was, too, batting near a .600 clip early on. The sophomore catcher helped the club win the silver bracket at the Costa Mesa tournament, finishing fifth overall. There was no MVP named for the La Quinta tournament, but Coach Tony Qualin said his vote would have gone to Secaira. She was two for two with three runs batted in and a double in the championship game, helping Newport Harbor defeat La Quinta, 3-1.

During the Sunset League campaign Secaira was no less involved. The Sailors were a team that lost their senior leader, pitcher Alex Bauer, who decided to switch sports to rowing before the season even began. But Secaira, a team captain, served as a motivating force even as the team had yet another 0-10 league record.

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For her talents and leadership, Secaira is the Daily Pilot Dream Team Player of the Year for the Newport-Mesa area.

"She's just an all-around great player," Qualin said after Secaira earned first-team All-Sunset League honors for the second straight season. She led the team — and the area — with a .450 batting average and 28 RBIs.

Qualin said Secaira also improved defensively, throwing more runners out last year. In a program where few girls have gone on to play at the next level, she definitely wants to play in college, and Qualin wouldn't be surprised if that wish came true.

She will continue to work hard to achieve that goal, even after her accident (see column).

"She's really a mature kid, unselfish, hard-working," Qualin said. "She was really supportive of the other players. She didn't get involved with any of the 'mean girls' stuff that you get on teams."

The Sailors also keep improving. They were easily the best team in Newport-Mesa this season, going a combined 5-0 against rival Corona del Mar, Estancia and Costa Mesa.

Costa Mesa Coach Nichole Maddox, whose team was the only one of the four local teams to make the CIF playoffs, still wouldn't argue with the choice of Secaira as the area's best player.

"She's a really solid player," Maddox said.

With two years left and her work ethic, the sky appears to be the limit for Secaira.

Here's a look at the other 10 Dream Team selections for softball:

Lindsey Susolik

Corona del Mar

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