THE HISTORY OF SOFTBALL AT NEWPORT HARBOR HIGH SCHOOL
Newport Harbor High School didn’t have much in the way of girls sports until the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Any girls sports that existed through 1986 were governed by GAA (Girls Athletic Association). It wasn’t until the 1974-75 school year did Newport Harbor have its first competitive softball teams. That year, the girls played in the Beach Cities League. There were two teams made up of 9 seniors, 6 juniors, 9 sophomores, and 5 freshman. They played 3 practice games against Corona del Mar, Foothill, and Tustin before they began their league season. The varsity team ended up with a 2 – 5 league record that year.
Since the beginning of the program, Newport Harbor Softball has fielded 2 teams each year: varsity and JV. At times there were no more than 9 or 10 girls on a team, but there were always enough players to get through the season. For the 1975 – 1978 seasons, the yearbook team photos were not taken in any kind of uniform. The girls wore their own clothes. Uniforms were standard in the yearbook team photos starting in 1979. From 1979 through 1989, the uniforms included black pants with various uniform shirts. Shorts replaced the pants from 1991 through 2004. Hats were also used instead of visors for several of those years. Pants once again replaced the shorts for the varsity 2005 season and for the JV 2006 season, with the varsity wearing navy blue and the JV wearing gray. Uniform shirts have varied from v-neck pullovers of navy blue to baseball style white with blue pinstripes and button down the front. For the 1999 season, the varsity uniform shirts were sleeveless, white for home games and navy blue for away games.
Sharon Wolfe was one of the senior players on the first team. She also played field hockey for Newport Harbor and would later be a field hockey coach as well as Newport Harbor Softball’s varsity and JV coach. Mindy Alford and Lindsay Moore were also former Newport Harbor softball players that later became coaches for Newport Harbor Softball. Over the years of Newport Harbor Softball, there have been at least 14 different varsity coaches. The first coach for Newport was Nancy Staub and she held that position for 6 years. Subsequent varsity coaches were: Rick Shelton, George Spangler, Tim Parsel, (unknown), Mike Mullen, Morgan Taylor, Mike Mullen, Frank Talley, Jesse Martinson, Sharon Wolfe, Mike Davis, Zach Reeder, Melissa Branch, Tony Qualin, Russell Hartman, Mike Hunter, Melissa Taravella, and Tom Blanchfield.
Newport Harbor’s first softball field was in the corner by the girls gym and the football weight room. Eventually, the varsity field moved to the eastern corner of campus. The varsity outfield fence was replaced in the middle of the 2005 season and moved back about 8 feet. The JV field was replaced and used by the 2008 JV team starting in April 2008. In 2001, the team trailer was donated to the softball boosters by a retired Air Force office. It sat by the ENC fence on the 3rd base side for a couple of years before it was moved to its current location. Several dads (Joe Gleason, Brian Horn, Mr Martin, and a few others) worked tirelessly to divide it into 2 rooms, get the electrical working, put up the wallboard, add the outside stairs, and paint it. In the summer of 2006, Jeanine Bass and Becky Pfeifer painted the inside white and added the NH/anchor stencils in the larger room. Jeff and Jeanine Bass added the white board, the Leader Stat board, and hung all the team photos since 2002.
In 2007 Newport Harbor moved from the Seaview League back to the Sunset League, which has some of the strongest softball teams in the country, including Los Alamitos, who was ranked #1 nationally in 2017. Newport Harbor had several challenging years but some were better than others when the Sailors beat Corona del Mar in the Battle of the Bay.
A new era in Newport Harbor Softball began in 2018, which included a new head coach, five Freshman Varsity starters, a new outfield scoreboard, and a solid core of Boosters. With a young team, the future was looking bright. In 2019, Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach joined the league which was then split into Sunset Surf (Edison, Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos, Marina) and Sunset Wave (Corona del Mar, Fountain Valley, Laguna Beach, Newport Harbor). This, plus two more Freshman Varsity starters, turned 2019 into the best year for the program yet, including a league title and a first round win in CIF-SS playoffs. Things are looking up for Newport Harbor Softball!