NORTHEAST GLENDALE — There's not much needed to motivate the members of the Foothill 10- and 11-year-old All-Star Softball team prior to them taking the field.
They cross the basepaths knowing they have an abundance of pitching, hitting and defense. More importantly, they realize if they put all of those elements together, there's a reasonably good chance that they can repeat as champions in the District 16 Little League Tournament.
Foothill took the first step in its bid to repeat, as it banged out 12 hits en route to a convincing 23-6 victory against Crescenta Valley in an opening-round contest Tuesday night at Scholl Canyon Ball Fields. The game was called after five innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
The teams will meet in the tournament's championship game at 5 p.m. today at Scholl. An if-necessary contest will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday at Scholl. The winner will move on to the Section 2 Tournament, which will start Friday in Lancaster.
"We wanted to go out there and make something happen," said Foothill Coach Tyson Howard, whose team scored 13 runs in the top of the fifth inning. "We started out a little slow and it took a while to get things going.
"I thought CV hit the ball real well. I thought our pitching would hold them down a little bit more."
Foothill scored three runs in the first inning to grab a 3-0 lead. Two Crescenta Valley errors led to a pair of runs and Jordan Lousararian drove in a run on a grounder.
Crescenta Valley responded with a three-run first, which featured a run-scoring single by Ally Pehar that knotted the game at 3.
"I'm happy with the way we hit," Crescenta Valley Coach Chris Boone said. "We just need to play better defense because we beat ourselves [Tuesday]."
Foothill scored five times in the second to build an 8-3 lead. A run-scoring double by Tiffany Bartamian made it 5-3 before Katia Colwell extended the lead to 8-3 with a run-scoring single.
Foothill scored 13 runs in the fifth inning, which featured two-run hits from Sophie Georges and Alex Howard as highlights.
Howard and Boone said they expect a more competitive contest today.
"We've got a few things that we need to shore up," Howard said. "I expect CV to come out hitting and we'll have to pitch better because CV won't just give up."
Said Boone: "I expect a stronger effort from us. We need better pitching and we need to play better defense."