GLENDALE — With a four-run lead and just six outs left to record, the Crescenta Valley 9-10 Softball All-Stars could all but taste victory.
But the end result on Saturday afternoon wasn't so sweet for the local squad. A pair of error-fueled rallies by South El Monte tied the game and sent it to extra innings, where Crescenta Valley saw its run in the Southern California State Championships Tournament ended by a 9-7 loss in the seventh at Ribbons Little League Field in Victorville.
"It was a heartbreaker, it really was," Crescenta Valley Coach Dan Abboud said. "We felt very confident. We hit the ball very well on their pitcher, she was a good little pitcher, but exactly [the kind] we hit. We were very confident we could get this done."
Crescenta Valley's offense did just that over the first four innings, taking a 6-2 lead into the fifth. Tyler Herman plated Alli Lombardo with a two-out single for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning and Daisy Kim made it 3-0 heading to the second with a two-run triple to score Jennie Chacon and Herman.
Chacon pitched the first two innings, allowing a single run, and Lombardo also held El Segundo to one run over her two innings pitched in the third and fourth, but Crescenta Valley's bats stayed busy all the while.
Alexis Abboud singled in Emily Heinemann in the third and Chacon and Kim had run-scoring doubles in the bottom of the fourth to make it 6-2.
"Yes, we were licking our chops at that point," Coach Abboud said.
But that's where things took a turn for the worse for Crescenta Valley, beginning in the top of the fifth, where South El Monte took advantage of three errors to score two runs off Abboud, who had entered in relief.
"We should have been so far out of that inning," Coach Abboud said. "We didn't help the pitcher out there."
In the sixth, Abboud faced runners on second and third with one out and got a strikeout followed by a grounder, but an error on the play brought home two more South El Monte runs.
Still, Crescenta Valley had a chance to win the game in the sixth, where it recorded three hits. But two outs came on the base paths and Crescenta Valley was unable to push home the winning run.
A bases-loaded double for South El Monte in the top of the seventh put Crescenta Valley in dire straits down by three runs and Heinemann's one-out single while representing the tying run was as close as CV could get to a comeback rally in its last at bats.
"The pitching was there, all our pitching was solid," Abboud said. "If we could have made our plays defensively, we would have been out of this game and still there.
"I think most importantly all our girls know how to play better ball than when we started, they all learned something. We had a good run, they did very well."