GLENDALE — What began as a three-team tournament has morphed into a three-game series for the District 16 Major Softball All-Star Tournament Championship.
Four days after the Crescenta Valley and Tujunga teams kicked off action Saturday afternoon, both will meet in Wednesday night’s tournament championship at 7:30 at Scholl Canyon Ball Fields after visiting Tujunga defeated Crescenta Valley, 9-8, on Tuesday to force an if-necessary title game.
“We all knew this was going to be a real competitive, back-and-forth series when this started,” Crescenta Valley Coach David Fox said. “We’re almost evenly balanced and today we made two to three mistakes that really hurt. When you’re facing a good team like Tujunga, you just can’t give extra chances.”
Instead of preparing for Friday’s opening tilt of the Section 2 Tournament at Quartz Hill, Crescenta Valley will have to prepare for a do-or-die finale after its final rally was snuffed out in the sixth.
Tujunga led, 9-6, heading into the bottom of the inning when Crescenta Valley’s Amy Wurst (two for two with two runs) led off with a triple to right field. Wurst then scored when a fly ball from Tyler Herman, induced by Tujunga pitcher Lauren Coronado, was dropped in the outfield, allowing Herman to move to second.
Herman then advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout from Joelle Ly. While Coronado coaxed a line drive to short for the second out, Crescenta Valley had life when Elizabeth Heinemann walked and moved to second on a wild pitch.
Yet, despite the momentum, Coronado and Tujunga survived on a flyout to end the game.
“It seems like it’s always a nailbiter when you play CV,” said Tujunga Coach Brian Oost, whose team improved to 5-1 in the tournament the last two seasons. “We’re two very good teams and I think the difference for us today was that we played better defense and had our own big inning.”
Crescenta Valley opened tournament action Saturday with a 10-7 victory over defending champion Tujunga, fueled in part by eight errors from Tujunga and a breakthrough six-run fifth inning for Crescenta Valley.
The tables turned Tuesday, as Tujunga’s defense bordered on stout in committing only three errors, while the visitors tallied a seven-run fourth inning that gave them some breathing room.
With Crescenta Valley leading, 3-1, after three innings, Tujunga sent 11 batters to the plate in scoring seven runs on five hits with the aid of three Crescenta Valley errors.
A series of doubles in the middle of the inning powered the surge, as Liza Meza doubled in two runs, while her two-bagger was followed by running-scoring extra-base hits from Ashley Wright and Coronado.
By the time the scoring parade concluded, not only had Tujunga taken its first lead versus Crescenta Valley, but was in charge with a commanding 8-3 lead.
“We seem to have an inning or two that really just hurt, innings that we can’t overcome,” Fox said. “Today, it was the fourth. If we want to win this, we’re going to have to stop having those types of innings.”
Crescenta Valley answered with two runs in the bottom of the fourth on a run-scoring triple from Herman and a sacrifice fly from Taylor Hoogenhuizen.
Yet, Tujunga scored the eventual winning run in the top of the fifth when Meza, the team’s No. 9 hitter, was at the center of another rally when she doubled with two outs and then scored on a single from Wright (two runs and two RBI).
The score put Tujunga up, 9-5, and countered a run from Crescenta Valley in the bottom of the inning created on a double from Jordan Hinkle.