Crescenta Valley-Foothill All-Star Junior softball team looks to repeat in Southern California

With two championships already in tow, the Crescenta Valley-Foothill All-Star Junior softball team has plenty to be proud of already.

The District 16 and Section 2 champions still have something to prove to themselves, though, coming into the Southern California Championship Divisional tournament — a six-team, double-elimination contest that tees off Saturday at Scholl Canyon Park. CV-Foothill opens play 7 p.m. Sunday against the winner of a game between Section 5 and Section 9

"I think we're all really excited [for Divisionals]," CVFH second baseman Taylor Schaffer said, "and we're all going to play how we always do and show the teams we haven't changed much from last year."

In order to show it's as good as 2012, Crescenta Valley-Foothill will aim to win the divisional crown in consecutive years. CVFH, which includes players from Burbank also, is certainly poised to match the success it had a year ago when it qualified for the Western Regional Tournament.

Just like in 2012, things have come easy in the first two rounds for CVFH. It's won all four of its games by the mercy rule, including a 12-1 victory over West Lancaster Tuesday to lock up the Section 2 title, outscoring its opponents 65-1.

"We haven't really been tested yet, we haven't had that pressure us," said CVFH Coach Will Thayer, who returns six players from last year's group and welcomed seven newcomers. "Until then, it's hard to tell exactly how good we are."

Thayer, who's already scouted the five other teams, identifies South El Monte of Section 3 and Westchester of Section 4 as the strongest competition in the upcoming round. The biggest difference Thayer expects will be the level of pitching.

A look at least year shows how tough divisional play can be. CVFH cruised through the first three games with wins over Tri-Valley (10-0), South El Monte (10-2) and Victorville (9-0) before scratching out a 5-4 walk-off win over Westchester to clinch the championship.

"The next tournament is going to be a lot tougher," said Schaffer, whose dad Drummond Schaffer is the team manager. "The teams are more competitive and like us. It will be tough and close games."

More than anything else, CVFH catcher and leadoff hitter Camie Ellingford expects the next tournament to be a mental challenge. She's antsy to see how her team will handle a close game packed with pressure for the first time this year.

To this point, Ellingford thinks CVFH's easy road is both good and bad leading into Divisionals.

"It's both, it's good because it gets our confidence level way up and we feel we have a better chance of winning it all, because we've been winning by this much and we're going into our third tournament," she said. "It's bad in a way because we don't know how we are under pressure."

Still, CVFH seems to have a complete package with strong pitchers, defense and quality hitting across the lineup and will be able to take comfort in some homefield advantage again in Divisionals.

Thayer, who will be coaching a team in this round for the fourth year in a row, had traveled to Victorville, San Diego and Westchester for Divisional tournaments previously.

"Playing a home game, all that travel you don't have to do and the girls can sleep in their own beds and stay rested," Thayer said. "I am hoping it's going to be a huge advantage for us."

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