NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Kristen Laulette admitted the Foothill Major All-Star softball team was just about ready to give up on its season — facing an eight-run deficit heading into its final at-bats — until Emily Mulcahey called her team to action.
"A lot of us were giving up on the bench, all sad, and Emily walked through and said, 'Guys, we can do this, why are you on the bench? Let's do this,'" Laulette said. "I got hyped up and everybody started getting hyped up. If one person does it, the entire team starts doing it."
Foothill rallied behind Mulcahey and scored eight runs on seven walks and three hits in the bottom of the sixth inning of the District 16 consolation bracket final against Crescenta Valley to send the game to an extra seventh inning, where the improbable comeback was completed with a walk-off hit by Laulette for a 14-13 victory at Scholl Canyon Park.
“It was really a lot of pressure, I was really nervous and scared I wasn't going to do it,” said Laulette, whose team must now beat Tujunga twice, beginning today at 5:30 p.m. at Scholl Canyon Park to force an if-necessary game set for Monday in order to win the Major tournament. “When I hit it, I tried to make it impossible to catch. I tried actually to make it on the third- or first-base line.”
Laulette did just that, as she blooped the ball right onto the chalk of the foul line on the right-field grass to score Trinity Dawoodtabar, who had started the winning rally by reaching base on a throwing error with two outs. Foothill's No. 9 hitter, Laulette, was 0 for three to that point when she came to the plate with the game-winning run in scoring position.
"This is why I play the game, this is why I coach," Foothill Coach Jason Georges said. "It is a game like this that is the most amazing experience — internally, externally. It is why the sport is played."
The game was back and forth featuring five lead changes, but it seemed Crescenta Valley was in complete control, as it scored five runs on three hits, two walks and an error in the fourth to take a 9-5 lead on run-scoring singles from Arleth Lima (two for four with a run batted in), Elli Yao and Therese Oshiro (four for five with two RBI).
Crescenta Valley expanded its lead to eight runs, 13-5, as four more CV players crossed home plate in the fifth on four hits, including a two-RBI triple from Sierra Marshall (two for four), and three errors.
It left Crescenta Valley Coach Dave Fox feeling comfortable headed into the bottom of the sixth, as he made a pitching change.
"I thought [the lead] was good enough to give my other pitcher some experience," said Fox, who made another change without an out in the sixth after Foothill received four straight walks to start the inning. "I thought we would still come back, get a few outs and shut them down, but then one thing led to another."
Mulcahey (two for three, two RBI) drew the first bases-loaded walk of the inning to cut CV's advantage to 13-6. A pair of RBI singles from Atallah, Briana Alcaraz (two for four) and three more bases-loaded walks brought the deficit to one, 13-12.
A strikeout gave Crescenta Valley two outs and left it all up to Mulcahey, who fell behind, 0-2, before lining a ball in front of the center fielder to tie the game.
"It is amazing, utterly amazing," Georges said of the game. "I am just so proud of my girls. The way we played today, we really pulled it through and played the way we needed to. They never give up and we pulled it off."
Crescenta Valley took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a Oshiro single that scored two runs on an error in left field. Foothill took a 3-2 lead with three runs in its half of the first, as an Atallah single also scored a pair on a throwing error in center field.
CV took a 4-3 advantage on three hits, including a Kyra Tavizon RBI infield single, and two passed balls in the third. Foothill grabbed the lead again on an error and RBI single from Dawoodtabar in the bottom of the third.