As the San Pedro and Port Of Los Angeles High softball teams will do battle on Thursday at Harbor College, two freshmen who have been best friends basically since birth, will also reunite for the first time on the high school scene.
San Pedro freshman utility player Andrea Cline and POLA freshman pitcher Analise De La Roca have both made their marks for their respective schools during the first half of the season and will no doubt try to play a huge role in the outcome of the third all-time meeting between the Pirates and the Polar Bears. Cline and De La Roca along with their families have been close since they came up through the softball scene together.
"Andrea and I have known each other since we were six years old and have played softball together every year together except for maybe three years," De La Roca says. "We've played against each other before and it's always a fun time."
De La Roca, who verbally committed to Arizona State on January 21, has been producing for POLA at the plate this season with a .346 batting average, 3 home runs and 18 RBIs, while posting a 7-2 record with 54 strikeouts and a 2.26 ERA teaming alongside fellow junior pitcher Nicolle Miranda who has pitched the majority of the big games for the Polar Bears (18-5 overall).
Against Bright Star of Los Angeles on April 9, De La Roca threw her first career no-hitter in a dominating Crosstown League victory for POLA, but her most memorable moment with the team thus far was the Polar Bears winning the Redondo Tournament to start the season.
"I'm excited to see how far this team can go," De La Roca says on POLA's prospects of competing in the CIF-Los Angeles City Section Division I playoffs. "I like that our coaches have given us a challenging schedule to rise to which will help us come playoffs."
Cline has been perhaps the most productive of the five San Pedro freshman with a .393 batting average and 9 RBIs with one double, which came against Narbonne of Harbor City on April 2. Even though it hasn't happened yet, Cline has home run power and it'll be only a matter of time before she finally hits one out.
Playing for San Pedro (14-4), a program with a powerful tradition and 16 City Section titles, has been a childhood dream for Cline.
"It's truly amazing," Cline said. "Ever since I was little I always dreamed of being on varsity all four years. One thing I've always dreamed about is being on varsity as a freshman."
Cline's biggest moment came against St. Joseph of Lakewood when she blasted a go-ahead single in the top of the fifth inning that put San Pedro up, 2-1 in the Whittier Tournament championship game on March 29 at Whittier High. The Pirates eventually won, 3-2 to capture the title.
De La Roca and Cline both have a championship as teammates, as they were on an 8U All-Star Team for the San Pedro Girls Softball Association in 2008. That team made history by being the first district champion to finish undefeated and the team banner is still hung up at the Pistol Range Complex, one of POLA's designated home fields to this day.
Notable teammates along with De La Roca and Cline includes Mary Star freshman shortstop Amanda Vitalich, San Pedro freshman infielder Andrea Trejo and POLA freshman utility player Destiny Sambrano.
POLA is coming off a solid run in the Las Vegas Spring Jamboree Tournament where the Polar Bears won four in a row after losing their two pool play games to capture the Bronze Division title. "I think it's exactly what we needed," De La Roca said of the trip to Vegas. "Our team definitely bonded."
Thursday will not be the end of the friendship of De La Roca and Cline, but don't think for one second they won't be in game mode when San Pedro and POLA get it on come 3 pm.
"It won't be the first time, and it won't be the last," Cline says on facing De La Roca Thursday. "I'm excited and pumped. We are best friends but game time means serious business."