2017-03-16 / Sports
Cats find sweet spot on diamond
Newbury Park softball players dream of hanging Marmonte League title banner
Fashion guru Mugatu would describe the Panthers in one way: They’re so hot right now.
Newbury Park High’s softball team (9-1 overall, 1-0 in the Marmonte League) continued its blistering start with a 3-0 win against Agoura at Borchard Park on Tuesday in the league opener.
Tabitha Dyer, the ace in the circle for the Black Cat Attack, allowed four hits in the shutout victory. The Penn-bound lefty has been lights out this season while the bats have been white hot for Newbury Park, which has outscored opponents 80-11 through 10 games this spring.
While Newbury Park’s statement victory over Agoura has caught more attention than Derek Zoolander’s latest look, first-year head coach Mike Dagan said it’s way too early to celebrate a league title.
“It’s going to be a tough one,” said the skipper, whose brother Doug Dagan is an assistant coach with the football team. “Everybody has a legitimate shot on any given day.”
There are no easy outs in the Marmonte.
Oaks Christian flaunts a 10-1 record. Jessica Ross, an Ohio State commit, is dangerous in the circle for Calabasas. Westlake and Thousand Oaks are inspired with first-year head coaches. Agoura will seek revenge at home when the teams lock horns again on March 30.
“Pretty much every pitcher in our league is committed to a D-I school,” said Serena Huchingson, a junior catcher committed to Boise State. “That’s really cool to get to experience what we’re going to be facing in college.”
Huchingson passed the test against Kansas-bound ace pitcher Lexi Mills of Agoura. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the third inning, Huchingson blasted an offspeed pitch to the right field wall for a bases-clearing triple.
“I just keep preparing myself for college,” Huchingson said. “Committing really boosted my confidence. It’s something to work towards. I’m excited to get there.”
Paige Barth, a junior shortstop committed to San Diego State, and Chase Knapp, a sophomore who starts in center field, entered the week with identical .500 batting averages. Barth crushed a grand slam against Chaminade on March 6. Knapp has two triples.
SeaEnna Satcher, a junior committed to Charleston Southern University, patrols third base. She entered the week hitting .481 with six RBI.
Kali Brown, a junior who roams second base, entered the week hitting .444 with five RBI and one triple.
Lexi Brown, Kali’s older sister, is a senior left fielder. Lexi Brown is third on the team with eight RBI.
Freshman Sydney Barth, Paige’s younger sister, earned the starting role in right field.
Junior Sophia Dagan, the coach’s daughter, and Cory Carrillo, a sophomore, share time at first base.
Emily Takayama, a junior who plays in the infield and outfield, and Shelby Scholle, a sophomore catcher, bolster the roster.
Zoe Estoppy, a junior right-handed pitcher, has earned the trust of the coach as the team’s second option in the circle.
“She’s ready to go anytime,” Mike Dagan said of Estoppy. “We’ve been giving her some innings. The progression from last year to this year has helped. The summer’s paid off a lot. She looks good.”
Dagan, who coached Newbury Park’s junior varsity teams the past four seasons, said he hopes his youngsters are taking notes from the veterans in the lineup.
“On defense, when you have four D-I commits, you hold them to that level and bring the rest of the team up to that,” the skipper said. “Pushing them to that, it makes them see that they can do it.
“If we keep going at this pace, we’ll be fine.”
Newbury Park plays host to Calabasas at 3:30 p.m. today.
“We just need to keep pushing through when times get hard during a game,” Kali Brown said. “We have to have positive energy.”
If the Panthers can snag a playoff berth, they’ll compete in the Division 3 bracket.
Dyer said she’s not looking too far ahead. There’s still a league title up for grabs.
“It’s going to be a lot of very close, hard-fought games,” she said. “We’ll all be playing our hearts out.”