WESTCHESTER — There was something common and something rare in the Crescenta Valley-Foothill Junior All-Star softball team's victory over Victorville that advanced it to the championship round of the Southern California Division III Tournament.
What was familiar to the CVFH fans was their team's offense, which not only stayed hot with 14 hits, but took an early lead as it usually has over the past two weeks in the 9-0 victory at Kent D. Mace Field in Westchester.
The rare occurrence for CVFH was the shutout from pitcher Jordan Lousararian, who stayed in for all seven innings instead of being subbed out after four innings for reliever Adela Alatraca, which CVFH's coaching staff has routinely done during his team's run.
"They couldn't figure her out so I figured I'm going to ride this horse," Coach Will Thayer said of his decision to stick with Lousararian. "[Victorville] only had three more innings left and she was in the zone so I was going to ride it."
Lousararian rewarded Thayer by shutting down a potent Victorville offense that had scored 14 and seven runs in its previous two games.
"My drop [pitch] and my changeup were working," said Lousararian, who gave up just three hits, three walks and struck out nine in the game. "It was a good day for it to work. …Our defense was great and we had a good run cushion so that helped."
The win puts CVFH into the championship round of the tournament and in need of only one win against the winner of the Westchester-Del Rey and Victorville game — set to be played Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. — to become Division III champion and earn a berth to Tucson, Ariz. and a spot in the Western Regional Tournament.
The Division III championship round kicks off Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Kent D. Mace Field with an if-necessary game to be played if CVFH loses on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Camie Ellingford came up big with two outs to give CVFH a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. She jumped on the first pitch she saw and lined it over the center fielder to score Alex Howard, who singled aboard with one out and moved to second on a Cailen Rodriguez groundout.
The No. 2, 3 and 4 hitters for CVFH — Howard, Rodriguez and Ellingford, respectively — all fueled the offense, as the three combined for eight hits and five runs batted in. Calley Ellingford (two for two with a stolen base) also had a multi-hit game for CVFH, which also got singles from Sammy Fabian, Taylor Schaffer, Tiffany Bartamian and Brenda Gamez.
"If we [the heart of the order] get hits it jump starts the rest of the team," said Howard, who was three for five with two RBI.
Camie Ellingford (two for five, two RBI) put CVFH up, 3-0, in the top of the third when she smashed a ground ball single under the glove of the Victorville second baseman and into center field, to score Howard, who was walked, and Rodriguez, who singled, when the ball was bobbled in center field.
A two-out error — one of four committed by Victorville — opened the door for a three-run CVFH outburst in the fourth.
Paige Baker grounded to third base but was safe when she hustled to first after it wasn't fielded cleanly. Baker scored on another error as Schaffer singled to right field and beat the throw to first. The first baseman fired an off-target throw home, which allowed Baker to score. Howard cashed in Schaffer with a single and Rodriguez (three for five, RBI) staked CVFH to a 6-0 advantage with a RBI single of her own.
CVFH extended the lead to 8-0 on RBI singles from Fabian and Howard in the fifth. Bartamian capped the scoring in the seventh after she reached on an infield single, moved to second on an Alatraca sacrifice bunt, third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch.
While the victory leaves CVFH as the favorite to win the division as the only undefeated team left in the tournament, Thayer impressed the importance of staying grounded to his team.
"In the postgame speech I told them, 'Enjoy the victory but don't get too ahead of yourselves because I've been here and lost the next two games,'" Thayer said. "It's great they played well but there's still a lot of work to do because both [Westchester-Del Rey and Victorville] are really good. It was just our day today."