Ashby helps East stars shine bright

VAN NUYS — Erin Ashby proved to be a consistent and reliable player the past four seasons for the Crescenta Valley High softball team.

Whether in the circle or at the plate, Ashby played a large role in shaping some successful Falcon teams, including helping Crescenta Valley gain a split of the Pacific League championship this season.

The Stanford-bound Ashby had one final opportunity to compete at the high school level and she finished in a big way, this time sporting another uniform.

Ashby had two hits and scored a pair of runs to lead the East All-Star Team to an 8-5 victory against the West on Tuesday afternoon in the sixth rendition of the San Fernando Valley All-Star Classic at Birmingham High.

Ashby, the reigning All-Area Softball Player of the Year, also recorded a combined three assists and two putouts at third base and shortstop.

"It's great to come out here and be a part of it," said Ashby, who was named the Pacific League's most valuable player for the second season in a row. "A lot of great players are here and have passed through here and it's a nice way to end my [high school] career."

Ashby helped the East get going in the bottom of the first after starting the game at third base. Ashby lined a single to right center and came home when Jenna Kelly of Saugus hit a grand slam off West starting pitcher Sophia Perez of Simi Valley to give the East a 4-0 lead. Later in the inning, Ashby was inserted as a courtesy runner and scored on a two-run double by Valencia's Caitlin Rooney to make it 6-0.

After a solo home run by Thousand Oaks' Paris Shipp trimmed the deficit to 6-1 in the second, Ashby and the East had a quick response in their half of the inning. San Fernando's Melinda Robertson had a run-scoring double to drive in Quartz Hills' Destine King to make it 7-1 before Ashby hit a ground-ball single on an 0-2 pitch just inside first base to score King to extend the advantage to 8-1.

"With my first hit, I just wanted to get on base and have them get me in," said Ashby, who finished two for three and helped the East snap a three-game losing skid in the event. "With the second hit, I wanted to put the ball in play and the ball stayed fair."

The West scored three runs in the fourth to make it 8-4 and added another run in the seventh to close out the scoring.

The game featured six additional area players who competed for the East. Among those were Anna Edwards, Lauren O'Leary and Megan Siepler of La Cañada, Hallie White and Taylor Buliavac of Burroughs and Burbank resident Emily Seidel of Village Christian.

O'Leary, who helped La Cañada win the CIF Southern Section Division V championship, pitched the first two innings. The right-hander struck out two and allowed one run.

Edwards, who played shortstop, went hitless in two plate appearances while starting at shortstop. Siepler went hitless in one trip to the plate and began the contest at second base.

White, who played third and second as a reserve, didn't get a hit in two plate appearances. Buliavac, who substituted at first base, also went hitless in two at-bats.

Seidel, who played second in a reserve role, didn't record a hit in two trips to the plate.

Village Christian's Maddi Velasquez, a La Crescenta resident, was invited to play in the game, but was unable to attend due to a conflict with her college orientation.

According to game coordinators, Crescenta Valley's Sydney House and Flintridge Prep's Denise van der Goot were also invited to play, but did not take part.

Kelly won the home-run hitting contest. Shipp was named the game's offensive most valuable player and East catcher Ashley Butera of Saugus played all nine innings and was selected the game's defensive most valuable player.

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