Nitros win stuns CV

LA CRESCENTA — All smiles and walking to the team bus, Glendale High softball player Esmeralda Winland looked at teammates Meghan Spencer and Janette Avina and rhetorically asked, "Did we just beat CV?"

They absolutely did.

For the first time since March 31, 2005, Glendale defeated Crescenta Valley, handily upending their Pacific League rival, 6-0, on Friday at CV.

"I feel like I could conquer the world," Winland told her teammates.

Her teammates, one with her armed taped with ice and the other still in disbelief, were the leaders of a team that stunned the Falcons and all but knocked CV out of the race for the league championship.

Spencer, a junior pitcher, and Avina, her senior catcher, dominated in the circle and at the plate less than a month after the Falcons mercy-ruled Glendale, 11-0, in their first meeting and just three days removed from CV upsetting first-place Burroughs, 7-4.

"We weren't thinking about the other game," Spencer said. "We were thinking about coming out and doing our best. We wanted to go out and play hard. The mental state of the team was so strong and so happy. We managed to stay focused."

Spencer was sharp from the outset, outdueling her counterpart, Olivia Thayer of CV.

The Nitros ace didn't allow a hit until a check-swing blooper with one out in the fourth. In all, she surrendered just three hits and, importantly to her and her coach, walked just three in throwing a shutout against a Falcons squad that was averaging just under 10 runs a game and had been shut out just once before this season.

"It is a huge difference when you don't walk people," Glendale Coach Chris Paknik said. "Let's be honest, she's not overpowering, but she did what she needed to do. I'd have her pitch 100 times out of 100."

CV (18-6, 9-3 in league) — which is two games out of first place in league — only threatened in the third. With two outs, Hailey Cookson and Allison Lacey reached on a walk and error. But Spencer forced Hannah Cookson to fly out to center for the final out. CV didn't have a batter reach third after the third.

"They made all of the plays," CV interim Coach Mark Samford said. "I don't think we hit two or three balls hard all day. You have to give all the credit to Glendale."

A ton of credit went to Avina, who went two for three with three runs batted in.

With the bases loaded, Avina singled to center in the fourth, scoring Spencer and giving the Nitros (9-9, 5-6) a 1-0 lead. Later in the inning, Iliana Rodriguez and Krissel Miraflor stayed patient at the plate with the bases loaded, as each Nitro drew a walk to push across runs by Brenna Cancilla and Rachel Bartamian.

CV, which threw a combined 34 pitches in the first three innings, threw 46 in the fourth alone.

The fifth inning put the score well out of reach.

Bartamian, who scored twice, added a run with a single that plated Spencer, who started the inning by reaching base on an error. Avina added the highlight of the day. She blasted the first pitch by Chloe Fairbrother to center field for a two-run home run that silenced the shocked CV faithful.

"Everything came together, physically and mentally," Paknik said. "It's contagious. It's fun."

Glendale had fun well after the game finished.

Said a smiling Avina: "I'm still speechless."

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