Crescenta Valley 9-10 All-Stars silently hope second time's a charm

Everyone knew its season and championship would be on the line in just about 24 hours, but the Crescenta Valley 9-10 All-Star softball team never talked about the elephant on the field during a Saturday morning practice.

CV Coach Mark Bitetti spent practice reinforcing the basics of the game: hitting, fielding and throwing. Not once did he bring up the team’s rematch with the District 58 and Section 9 champion Tri-Valley in the final round of the Southern California Championship Divisional tournament Sunday at 4 p.m. at Harvey Field in Jurupa Valley.

“We didn’t even talk about the game tomorrow, they’re just a little family,” said Bitetti, whose team would face Tri-Valley in an if-necessary championship game Monday at 6 p.m. if it wins Sunday. “Everybody that shows up, they’re all just happy to see each other. They like being around one another, like today, eight of them are out swimming at a parent’s house right now.”

While his team was relaxing, Bitetti was giving the upcoming game some thought.

When Crescenta Valley lost on Wednesday to Tri-Valley, 18-14, it fell into a big hole early due to a number of mistakes and was nearly done in by the 10-run mercy rule a number of times.

“Uncharacteristic errors, unnecessary throws and stuff we hadn’t been doing,” Bitetti said of what hurt his team in its one loss this year, while chalking it up to nerves. “I think both teams didn’t play their best that game. … I don’t think we saw their best and I don’t think they saw our best.

“They were just really tight, really anxious and I don’t know why. It’s hard to put a finger on it. There’s days when things don’t go your way. Once things start to fall apart, it goes from really bad to worse, that’s what happened in that game. They’re young, they get caught up in all the emotions of the whole thing.”

While CV did end up losing Wednesday, it managed to score a moral victory that could pay big dividends Sunday.

After giving up a seven-run second and four-run third inning, Crescenta Valley found itself in a 14-3 hole. It managed to pull within three runs, 17-14, before Tri Valley capped the scoring in the fifth.

“It really was like a twist of fate almost, we were one strike away from being mercied on two occasions that game,” Bitetti said. “We had the bases loaded a few times and didn’t get more runs than we could out of some innings. We potentially could have had six, seven more runs. We actually could have beaten them, one key hit and we could have.”

Tri-Valley is a tough opponent for CV, with a strong defensive infield and quality pitchers.

“You’re going to have to beat them, they’re not going to make a lot of mistakes,” Bitetti said.

CV’s ability to claw back and turn a lopsided defeat into a close situation could serve as a boost to the team’s confidence Sunday.

“Of course, the psyche of people in general would be, ‘Oh, they mercied us, we don’t have a chance.’ I like to hope our girls wouldn’t do that, but it’s kind of human nature,” Bitetti said.

CV turned things around in its next game Friday in an 11-8 win over Hesperia. It improved its record to 6-1, including a forfeit win in the first round of the divisional tournament.

“That was a good team we beat, Hesperia. They played really well,” Bitetti said. “We had very few mistakes out in the field and everybody was putting a bat on the ball, all the things we’ve been doing.”

Through six games played, Crescenta Valley has scored an average of 11.2 runs a game and allowed 6.2.

While CV will hope the averages remain in its favor, win or lose, this championship run is something Bitetti believes his team will carry with it for a long while.

“They’ll have a lot good memories about this experience,” he said, “and that’s really what it’s all about.”

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World