GLENDALE — Its first game against Hoover High this season was a close contest. Too close for the Crescenta Valley High softball team.
The Falcons needed a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a tie and defeat the Tornadoes in March.
Less than a month later, the Falcons made sure to jump ahead early instead of allowing the Tornadoes to take a lead like they did the first time.
Crescenta Valley scored three runs in the third inning, but it was still close, as the Falcons withstood Tornadoes threats in the fourth and seventh innings en route to a 4-1 victory Thursday at Hoover.
The three Falcons runs in the third inning came on five hits, all on Hoover pitcher Breana Aguilera’s first pitch.
Hailey Cookson, batting leadoff for the Falcons (11-8-1, 7-2 in league), started the hitting barrage with a single to center field and Adela Alatraca followed with a perfectly placed bunt single that stopped between Aguilera and Tornadoes catcher Jenesy Gonzalez.
Tiffany Briscoe provided all of the runs the Falcons would need with a two-run single to left. Briscoe scored on Taylor Hill’s single to left, as Crescenta Valley — which defeated Hoover, 8-6, on March 28 — sent nine batters to the plate in the inning. Hill was two for three and Alatraca was two for four, with teammates Whitney Craig and Chloe Fairbrother also providing singles.
“We picked up on her pitches,” said Cookson, who scored on a single by her sister, Hannah Cookson, in the seventh inning. “We saw them better.”
Aguilera settled down after the third inning to retire nine of the next 10 batters, including perfect innings in the fourth and sixth.
“The third inning, she got the ball up a bit and wasn’t crisp in hitting her spots,” Tornadoes Coach Rich Henning said. “They keyed in on her first pitches.
“But she got the first batter out in every inning, except the last one. She pitched a good game.”
Aguilera pitched well in every inning but the third.
Crescenta Valley pitcher Olivia Thayer was effective in every inning.
She scattered six hits, walked two and struck out seven. The only run that the junior allowed was an unearned run that was scored by Kelly Crockett after a throwing error by the Falcons third baseman.
Hoover (5-9, 1-8) was just two for its first 12 with a runner on base and left nine runners on base, including seven in scoring position. Hoover left runners on second and third with one out in the fourth and runners at the corners in the seventh.
“We left too many runners on base,” Henning said. “You don’t win any games with leaving nine runners on base.”
Thayer was mentally strong, said Falcons assistant coach Ashleigh Viers-Gordillo.
“It’s a mental thing,” Viers-Gordillo said. “For [Thayer], it’s, ‘I didn’t get this one, let me go get the next one.’
“She knew what the hitters’ weaknesses were and she knew what she should throw.”