Mark Samford resigns as Crescenta Valley High softball coach

After leading the Crescenta Valley High softball team to the playoffs in each of his two seasons as head coach, Mark Samford resigned Thursday.

Citing personal reasons in which he declined to elaborate, Samford guided Crescenta Valley to a record of 34-17-1 overall and 21-7 in the Pacific League. The Falcons finished tied for second in league both seasons.

“It’s just some stuff in my personal life that I’m dealing with and it’s got nothing to do with softball,” said Samford, who was named the team’s interim coach for the 2012 campaign after legendary coach Dan Berry passed away in 2011. “I have to invest more time elsewhere.

“I didn’t kick around the idea of resigning very long. I love softball, but there are other things in life that take precedent.”

Samford had the interim tag removed shortly after the 2012 season. He’s served as head coach of the school’s frosh/soph boys’ basketball team for 10 seasons and as an assistant on the boys’ varsity squad for the past eight seasons under Shawn Zargarian. Samford said he’s planning to remain on board in each basketball capacity.

The Falcons finished 20-6, 11-3 in league on the diamond in 2012 before losing in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs. They followed that up in 2013 with a mark of 14-11-1, 10-4 before suffering a 3-1 loss to La Salle in a Division III wild-card road contest.

Samford said it was a privilege to coach the softball team, even with the arduous task of trying to fill the gigantic void left after Berry died.

“There’s a rich tradition with this program because of coach Berry,” Samford said. “A lot of excellent players have come though the program.

“No matter what sport I have coached, I’ve been fortunate to be around better players. It was satisfying to see the players come together on the field the last two years and achieve some things.”

Crescenta Valley girls’ Athletic Director Peter Kim said it wasn’t clear who would be in line to succeed Samford. Kim said the search for a new coach would begin immediately.

“We are going to be patient about it,” Kim said. “There should be a line of good candidates.

“We always try to find somebody on our staff to begin with and then go from there. If we don’t get somebody [from the staff], then we will go outside. I was surprised that Mark resigned. You take over a program from somebody like coach Berry and I don’t know if that’s a situation that a lot of people can handle. Mark and I have spoken quite a bit about how the season was going and looking already toward next season.”

Samford said he will speak to assistant Ashleigh Viers-Gordillo, who served as an assistant coach under Samford the past two seasons. Viers-Gordillo was named the All-Area Softball Player of the Year in 2007 while playing first base for the Falcons.

“I’m hoping she will stay on with the program,” Kim said.

Crescenta Valley junior center fielder Hannah Cookson said the team met with Samford on Thursday.

“He talked with the team and let us know,” said Cookson, a reigning All-Area first-team pick. “I learned a lot about softball, on and off the field.

“I’m kind of bummed [about Samford leaving], but we look forward to playing for the new coach.”

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