GLENDALE — The Crescenta Valley 9-10 Softball All-Stars have had but a day to celebrate their Section 2 title. Now it's time to get back to business and get ready to try and win some more hardware.
Exactly what awaits the local All-Stars at Ribbons Little League Field in Victorville, where the team opens its Southern California State Championships tournament run against the Section 5 champion at 6 p.m. today, remains mostly a mystery to Crescenta Valley Coach Dan Abboud.
The vast geographic area the tournament draws sectional qualifiers from makes advance scouting all but impossible, so other than doing some last-minute scouting of teams from an earlier game and holding a morning practice to get used to the field today, Abboud will ask his team to prepare the same way it has throughout its District 16 and Section 2 runs.
"That's exactly what we're going to do," said Abboud, whose team defeated Quartz Hill, 18-8, in San Marino on Tuesday to clinch the Section 2 title. "We're going to try and approach this game just like we approach any other game. We're going to try and conserve our pitching and really get the bats going."
Following Wednesday's day off, Crescenta Valley (7-1) will have its complete pitching staff at its disposal, as tournament rules dictate that a player cannot pitch on consecutive days after throwing more than two innings in a game.
Abboud said he will likely stash ace Alli Lombardo away to close the game today and start either Alexis Abboud or Jennie Chacon in the circle.
"We're going to probably try to keep Alli in our back pocket for some of this first game," said Abboud, who indicated he would try to use each pitcher for no more than two innings to keep everyone eligible for the ensuing games.
Offensively, the starting lineup is bookended by speedsters Mallory Hill and Briana McReynolds at the top and bottom, respectively, with Lombardo, Jordan Hinkle and Chacon slotted in the heart of the order. Crescenta Valley also regains the services of one of its top hitter, Daisy Kim, who was not available for the last two games of the Section 2 tournament due to a family vacation.
At the very least, Kim will give the All-Stars another able body, as the team was reduced to nine available players during Tuesday's game when Elizabeth Heinemann suffered a minor injury during the game and suffered a further scare when Abboud was later shaken up after tripping over first base while chasing a high pop up. Abboud remained in the game and both players will play today.
"We're very excited to get her back," Coach Abboud said of Kim, "plus we were running pretty low on the numbers. We had Elizabeth hurt during the last game, so we had no one on the bench. We got nervous there for a while. We were kind of hoping nothing else would happen to us."
If Crescenta Valley wins today, it would advance to play the Section 8 champion, which enjoys a first-round bye, at 6 p.m. on Friday. A loss today would send Crescenta Valley to a loser's bracket game to face the loser of today's game between the Section 9 and Section 4 champions.