Slow starts seem to be a habit for the Concord High softball team.
But the Minutemen, who have won three of the past four North Coast Section Division II titles, know better than anyone else that it's not about how you start, but how you finish.
So in typical fashion, Concord is beginning to find its way as the calendar inches closer to May. After losing five of six to start the season, Concord has won 10 of 11 and is unbeaten in Diablo Valley Athletic League play.
"As we keep winning games, their confidence is building up and they've started believing in each other," coach Megan Coddington said. "That's usually what happens with our teams."
Unlike last year's senior-laden group, this year's team has just three returning starters -- shortstop Kelsey Randall, outfielder Alyssa Fredzess and pitcher Kelly Drake. There are plenty of upperclassmen on the roster, but most of them are on varsity for the first time.
The team went just 1-3 at the Queen of the Mountain tournament, showing its youth with baserunning mistakes, defensive errors and a lack of clutch hitting.
"We definitely had to get back to the basics and I had to find a way to get kids in the lineup where they feel comfortable," Coddington said.
Now the Minutemen are starting to see results against fellow Division II programs. Last week, they beat Pinole Valley 6-2 in extra innings.
"We really hadn't had much success with not scoring first and coming back to win," Coddington said. "They got to see what that feels like."
SAME STORY FOR COUGARS: Once again, the graduation of top-notch pitching and other college-bound athletes have done nothing to affect Campolindo's status as one of the top high school baseball teams in the Bay Area.
With the first half of the Diablo Foothill Athletic League season in the books, the Cougars hold a two-game lead in the standings as they look to lock up a fifth straight title.
The Cougars, who have also won four consecutive North Coast Section titles, have an ace to lean on in senior Matt Ladrech.
The left-handed Cal signee led the Cougars to a 5-1 victory Tuesday over second-place Miramonte. He struck out nine, allowed four hits and walked three in the complete game.
Catcher Adam Remotto provided the run support with a two-run homer in the first inning, helping the Cougars improve to 6-0 in DFAL play.
As usual, Campolindo's nonleague schedule has been a meat grinder. In addition to playing at the Bishop Gorman tournament in Las Vegas, the Cougars have faced St. Francis-Mountain View, Serra-San Mateo, Granite Bay and California.
It's found a groove recently, winning 13 of 14 to improve to 14-3 overall.
Local flavor at Elite 8: A week after De La Salle finished seventh at the Scott Boras Invitational, five more East Bay baseball teams are involved in a prestigious tournament.
California, College Park, Clayton Valley Charter, Newark Memorial and Amador Valley are all part of the Elite 8 tournament at St. Francis-Mountain View.
In a game featuring two of the top 10 teams in the East Bay, California beat College Park 8-5 in each team's opener Tuesday.
Mike Podany, who has a perfect game to his credit, earned his fifth win. He pitched six strong innings before College Park rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh inning against Cal's bullpen.
In another All-East Bay matchup, Clayton Valley Charter defeated Newark Memorial 11-1 in its opener to improve to 18-0.
The tournament continued Wednesday and concludes Thursday.
Follow Stephanie Hammon on Twitter at twitter.com/stephhamon.