LA CRESCENTA — Most teams would love to have one Cookson in their lineup. Fortunately for the Crescenta Valley High softball team, it has two Cooksons in sisters Hannah and Hailey.
The sisters played prominent roles in the Falcons’ CIF Southern Section Division III wild-card contest Monday against Sonora. Hailey belted two home runs and drove in three runs and Hannah had three hits and made two fine plays in center field to help lift Crescenta Valley to a 6-3 home victory against the Raiders.
Hannah, a senior, and Hailey, a junior, both reigning All-Area selections, proved to be a formidable duo at the plate, combining to go six for seven with four runs scored. Hailey, who is usually more of a line-drive hitter, was the sibling who displayed a power surge Monday, even outhitting her slugger sister.
“My dad was joking and saying that he thought that maybe someone switched us today,” Hannah said.
The reward for the Crescenta Valley (17-7) win is the team will travel north to Righetti for a first-round game at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.
“We know they play some very good softball up there,” Crescenta Valley first-year Coach John Pehar said of Righetti, which is in Santa Maria. “I am just happy for the seniors who will be able to play in a first-round CIF game.”
Righetti (23-6) is the PAC-7 League champion. Crescenta Valley tied for fourth in the Pacific League.
It didn’t take long for a Cookson to make her mark on the game against Sonora (13-13), which placed fourth in the Freeway League. Hailey (three for four with three runs scored) led off for the Falcons in the first inning and promptly delivered a line-drive home run to straightaway center field.
Sonora starting pitcher Samantha Casanas then encountered control problems, falling into three-ball counts with the next three batters, resulting in a walk to Jessica Yzaguirre, a single by Hannah Cookson (three for three with a walk) and a walk to Rachel Abboud to load the bases.
The next batter, Taylor Hill (two for four), hit a run-scoring single to center and Sydnee Wells followed with another hit to center to score the third run of the frame.
“I just love to see when Hannah has a good game and she gets some good hits,” Hailey said. “I just motivates me to be like her and get hits myself.”
The Falcons took a 4-0 lead in the second when Hailey Cookson legged out an infield single and crossed the plate on a hit up the middle by Abboud (two for two with a walk).
However, the Raiders cut the lead to just one, 4-3, with two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth.
Sonora would likely have scored more runs in the fifth if it wasn’t for two defensive gems by Hannah Cookson. Leandra Jew reached base on an infield error to start the inning.
She was then sacrificed to second. Katie Amaral than came up and blasted a shot to center field. Hanna Cookson fielded the ball cleanly and fired a dagger to home plate to gun down the runner, as the ball beat Jew by two steps.
After Sonora scored a run in the fifth and had a runner on second, Hannah Cookson made a diving catch to end the inning.
“I take a lot of pride in my hitting, because that’s what I’m better at,” Hannah said. “But I have also been concentrating more on my fielding as well.”
The Falcons quickly responded with two runs in their half of the fifth. Cailey Ellingford reached base on an infield single and was brought home on a two-run home run to left field by Hailey Cookson.
“Those two home runs were shots,” Pehar said. “Those were line drives and there was no doubt both of them were gone.”
Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports