A season full of success has been building into a postseason filled with acclaim for Crescenta Valley High junior Hailey Cookson.
First the shortstop was her team’s lone Pacific League first-team pick and now the leadoff batter is the only local to be named to the All CIF Southern Section Division III softball team list, which was released by the CIF-SS office and the LA84 Foundation on Monday afternoon.
“It means a lot to win this award,” Cookson said. “It’s like one of my dreams. I was really surprised because I didn’t expect anything.
“In fact, I was kind of shocked.”
Perhaps Cookson’s inclusion isn’t so unexpected.
The Falcon led her squad with a .569 batting average, which was second-best in league and translated into 58 hits in 29 games played. Cookson smacked five homers and doubled 10 times, while scoring 36 runs and driving in 27 RBI.
“She had the hottest bat on our team and she really became our lead-off hitter,” Falcons first-year Coach John Pehar said. “If you look at her stats, what did she do, strike out only twice all year, twice? She got on base and that’s certainly a big help.”
Cookson fanned only twice the entire season out of 102 at-bats.
Yet, offensive numbers aside, the junior was whiz on the field, committing only four errors at short.
“She had more putouts (85) than anyone else on this team, so her workload was certainly higher,” Pehar said. “It’s a great relief as a coach to have someone on the field you can trust.
“I know there’s no gold glove award out there, but if there was, Hailey would definitely be in consideration.”
Cookson helped pilot the Falcons to a 16-13 overall record, a fourth-place finish within the Pacific League and advancement to the divisional playoffs.
“When I’m at the plate, I usually have a plan for each pitcher and how they pitch,” Cookson said. “I’m only going after pitches on the inside and letting the outside ones go by. I’m just looking to hit the ball hard and straight.”
Cookson was joined on the list by rival pitchers in Burroughs’ Cheyenne Steward and Burbank’s Caitlyn Brooks.
While Cookson’s Falcons finished a combined 0 for four versus the Burbank squads, Cookson enjoyed individual success against the two hurlers.
Cookson finished four for eight versus Steward with two RBI and one run scored and was three for five versus Brooks, the reigning two-time Pacific League Player of the Year.
“I played on the same travel ball team (Valley Breeze) with Caitlin and never faced her until we got to high school,” Cookson said. “She is a tough pitcher and her skills have only improved every single year. I’m so proud of her.
“It was tough facing both pitchers, I had my difficulties, but they also helped make me a better player.”
Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.