LA CRESCENTA — In reality, clinching the Pacific League title outright has been simply a technicality for the Crescenta Valley High softball team.
But on Tuesday afternoon, the Falcons wrapped up their second straight outright league title and, perhaps more importantly, continued to build momentum for the impending CIF postseason.
“It’s definitely good to go in having [momentum], we definitely need to have some sort of persona with us,” said Crescenta Valley shortstop Baillie Kirker, whose grand slam keyed an 11-run second inning that bolstered the Falcons’ 14-1 five-inning win against Glendale.
Kirker went two for three with a walk, scoring two runs and driving in four when she lifted the aforementioned grand slam to center field for a 7-0 lead.
After Stephanie Ziemann followed with a single, Kali Cancelosi blasted a home run to right-center field for a 9-0 advantage.
“Just working on stuff too, so we can get ready for CIF,” said Cancelosi of the importance of the Falcons’ final games before next week’s playoffs begin. “We’re hitting really well.”
On senior day, it was fitting that the likes of Cancelosi and Kirker, both seniors, would lead the way.
“The kids should enjoy these type of things,” said Falcons Coach Dan Berry.
Cancelosi, who’s committed to play softball next fall at Biola University, also had a walk and reached on an error and, in the circle, got the victory. She pitched all five innings, striking out eight and allowing six hits.
For Glendale Coach Christine Paknik, her team’s six hits against Crescenta Valley (22-1, 13-0 in league) and Cancelosi, a multiple-time All-Area and All-Pacific League selection, was the brightest point of the game.
“I’m very impressed with how my [No.] 1, 3 and 4 hitters did,” said Paknik, who got hits from all three — Samantha Dickens, Abby Nagy and Ilene Suleymanyan — in the top of the third, when Dickens scored on a double to center from Suleymanyan. “We just gotta keep that momentum going for Thursday.”
Thursday will see Glendale (6-7 in league) play at Hoover, and should it win and Crescenta Valley, the third-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division III, defeats Arcadia, the Nitros and Apaches will compete in a play-in game to determine the fourth-place league finisher, which receives an automatic playoff entry. Thus, Thursday’s game is critical, to say the least.
“Huge,” Paknik said, “no other way to say it.”
Huge was definitely an adjective that applied to the Falcons’ second inning.
Singles by Erin Ashby, who went two for four with three runs and a RBI, Kirker and Kaela Green, who went two for three with an RBI and a run, and a sacrifice fly by Ziemann equated to a 2-0 Falcons lead after one inning.
In the second, seven Crescenta Valley hits and three walks, coupled with three Glendale errors turned the game into a rout.
Heather Bacon, who had two runs, a walk and a single, scored the first run of the inning on an error put in play by Alyssa Sovereign, who doubled in the inning’s final run, scoring Ashby.
A bloop single by Delaney Gay, who also had a walk and two RBIs, scored Natalie Honda for the Falcons’ final run in the third.
Dickens had a pair of hits for the Nitros.