GLENDALE — Often times, an individual player's inclusion on an All-CIF team has as much to do with individual talent as team success.
While the Crescenta Valley High softball team posted an 18-9 mark and a second-place finish in the Pacific League, its CIF Southern Section Division III dismissal didn't bode well for prospective All-CIF selections.
But the season put on display by Falcons pitcher Erin Ashby was apparently just too impressive to overlook, as the Stanford-bound junior was an All-CIF Division III first-team selection, while La Crescenta resident and Village Christian junior center fielder Maddi Velasquez was a Division V second-team pick.
"I was kind of uncertain because there were so many good players this year," said Ashby as to whether she expected to make the squad for the first time. "To be one of the them was a real honor."
For Velasquez, she was one of two All-CIF picks for a Village Christian squad that advanced to the division semifinals, the other being first-team selection Emily Seidel, who's a Burbank resident.
"I think she had probably her best season to date," said Village Christian Coach Mike Delaney of Velasquez.
Ashby, the Pacific League Player of the Year, took on pitching duties this season and put up impressive numbers in doing so.
She was 13-6 with a 1.72 earned-run average and struck out 137 batters to just 25 walks in 118 innings.
Despite the extra workload, Ashby's hitting numbers were as mind-spinning as they've ever been.
"I don't think it suffered," she said of the amount of work she put into her efforts at the plate. "I tried to put in the same amount of time."
At the plate, Ashby hit .568 (50 for 88) and had a team-leading 38 runs and also had 32 runs batted in.
Even more impressive was the fact that Ashby struggled with a pulled groin early in the season.
"I tried to fight through it," she said.
Velasquez also changed her game for the betterment of her team, as she changed up her hitting approach to incorporate more small ball.
"She changed her game a bit to help the team," Delaney said. "[The opposition] had to look for a little bit of a small game, but still respect her power.
"She's just become a better overall player."
Velasquez hit .391 on 36 hits with 19 runs, 17 RBIs, 11 doubles and stole 17 bases.
Other area players that received All-CIF selections were Burroughs sophomore pitcher Heather Haynes, who was a Division III second-team pick, and La Cañada High juniors Anna Edwards and Lauren O'Leary, who were both first-team Division V selections.