The mission statement for the Laguna Beach High softball team can be summed up for Victoria Batistelli in a single word: win.
That's the course the first-year head coach of the Breakers is mapping out for her team. The Breakers tasted success last year under Coach Alan Ludloff. They finished in third place in the Orange Coast League, earned a bid to the CIF Southern Section playoffs, and posted a 15-8 record. The 15 wins set a school single-season record, and the team set 12 new program records.
The Breakers also hosted a postseason game for the first time in program history last spring.
With eight returning players back for the 2013 season, Laguna could be on track for another big year.
"We're on a mission this year to win," Batistelli said. "We're going to have fun, but we're on a mission. We are going to have to work hard and be focused, but this mission that we're on to get to postseason play, is going to be more intense but that's exactly what the girls have fed on and prepared for all fall."
Batistelli had a standout softball career at Huntington Beach High, then played college ball at Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y. She later served as an assistant coach at the Division 1 school, after completing her professional playing career in Italy.
She played one year in the National Pro Fastpitch with the Rockford Thunder (Illinois), then played with Moli Macerata Italia in Macerata, Italy.
Batistelli's initial Laguna team has several key pieces back from last year's 15-win playoff team. Among the returnees is the senior battery duo of pitcher Haley Putnam and catcher Kennedi Gherardini. Both players earned All-Orange Coast League second-team honors last year. Putnam hit .571 with a 1.043 slugging percentage and also held a 1.71 earned-run average and yielded only six walks. Gherardini led the team with 38 runs batted in and hit .491 for the season.
Putnam also was named to the All-CIF Southern Section Division 5 softball team becoming only the third Laguna player, and first since 1996, to be named All-CIF. During her junior campaign, she led the team in several offensive categories for the season, including batting average, hits (40), home runs (five), triples (five), doubles (10) and runs scored (30).
Putnam also last year won the league's Scholar Athlete award, and was named Laguna's MVP for the season.
Laguna started its season March 1 with a nonleague home game against Capistrano Valley Christian. In a combined no-hitter thrown by Putnam and sophomore Halle Redfearn, a five-for-five day at the plate by Putnam that included two doubles and a pair of home runs, plus a three-for-three plate performance by junior Jordan Hartman that included a home run and double, the Breakers routed the Eagles, 29-0, at Thurston Middle School.
The Breakers were 2-2 through their first four games, with wins against Capo Valley Christian and Westminster La Quinta. Their losses are to Aliso Niguel and Mission Viejo. They played host to Riverside La Sierra Thursday but the score wasn't available at press time.
Laguna completes play Saturday at the Costa Mesa Tournament. The Breakers next week compete at the Laguna Hills Tournament, which starts Monday.
Laguna roster: Veronica Clancy, Jr.; *Jordan Hartman, Jr.; Makena Collins, Soph.; *Halle Redfearn, Soph.; Bailey Hartman, Sr.; *Haley Putnam, Sr.; *Kennedi Gherardini, Sr.; Lauren Kinkbride, Jr.; *Katyn Ott, Soph.; *Cory Kent, Sr.; *Jen Sorenson, Soph.; Andrea Gossett, Jr.; *Katie Andersen, Sr.; Gabby Lange, Jr.; Laura Merlin, Jr. (*Denotes returning starter).
Saturday: at Costa Mesa Tournament
Monday: at Laguna Hills Tournament
March 15: at Santa Ana, 3:15 p.m.
March 18: Saddleback Valley Christian, 4 p.m.