CANYON COUNTRY - Hot hitting, shutdown pitching and dependable defense is quite simply and quite obviously a winning formula.
And it’s quite simply and quite emphatically what the Crescenta Valley-Foothill Junior All-Stars softball team has done in laying waste to its first two foes, the latest being District 51’s Quartz Hill, which was downed, 7-0, by CVFH on Sunday morning at Canyon Country Little League complex in the Section 2 Tournament.
“It was just a well-played game,” CVFH Coach Will Thayer said. “I’m very pleased.
“I can’t complain about any facet of the game today.”
A day after the locals shut out Canyon Country-Mission Hills, 8-0, Alex Howard and Adela Alatraca combined for a second straight shutout and to strike out 11 in leading their team into the Section 2 title game on Tuesday at 5 p.m. CVFH awaits the winner of a Monday elimination game, which will see Quartz Hill play either San Marino or Canyon Country-Mission Hills, who played later Sunday in an elimination game.
CVFH (2-0) pounded out 13 hits, with the top five in the order – Cailey Ellingford, Alex Howard, Cailen Rodriguez, Jordan Lousararian and Camie Ellingford – combining to go 10 for 20 with six runs batted in and five runs. But, the entire starting lineup contributed, with every starter either drawing a walk or notching a hit.
“We were definitely hitting the ball solid today,” Thayer said. “And it started right in the first inning with Cailey.”
Cailey Ellingford led off the game with a single and followed with a stolen base, setting the scene for Rodriguez, who began a big day for herself and her team with a double to center field to score Ellingford, who went two for four with a run and a RBI. Rodriguez was three for four with a pair of RBI and two runs.
Just like Saturday’s win, CVFH jumped out to a 1-0 first-inning lead, but unlike Saturday’s game, CVFH came out hitting on Sunday from the onset, whereas it used walks and opportunistic base running the day prior to jump out to a lead. On Sunday, CVFH was hitting line drives all over the field from the start and also had four doubles, as opposed to no extra-base hits the previous day.
“We were a little nervous [Saturday], but [Sunday] we just came out ready,” said Howard, who reached on an error in the top of the third inning and came around for a 2-0 lead on a stand-up double from Rodriguez.
Camie Ellingford, who went two for four for a second straight game, followed suit in the inning with a two-out double clubbed to left-center that plated Rodriguez for a 3-0 bulge.
Two more runs came across in the fourth as Paige Baker, who had a pair of hits, Miranda Diaz, Cailey Ellingford and Howard notched consecutive singles with Baker driven in by Ellingford and Diaz pushed across by Howard. Putting a cap on the scoring with a two-run seventh, Rodriguez scored on a Camie Ellingford single and Lousararian came across on an Alatraca sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, Howard was keeping the opposition off-balance, throwing four shutout innings, giving up just two hits to no walks and striking out six.
“She was on it,” Thayer said of Howard. “She had all her pitches working.”
Alatraca came on and, for a second consecutive game, finished the victory with three shutout innings of work. She struck out five and gave up one hit and one walk.
Even more impressive was the victory came with three players absent due to travel ball commitments.
“We didn’t really think about that,” Howard said.
And, another aspect the District 16 representatives are trying not to think about is the likelihood that the championship will be played against a team they’ve already defeated handily.
“Just look at everyone as a team that could definitely beat you,” said Rodriguez of the approach her team must take, “because then you’ll play better.”