GLENDALE — When the Crescenta Valley-Foothill and Westchester Del Rey Junior All-Star softball teams last met, CVFH pulled out a walk-off win on Westchester's home field to take the 2012 Southern California Division III tournament title.
For the fourth year in a row, the two were reunited in divisional play Tuesday. This time, Westchester dealt CVFH a blow to its hopes of repeating in Southern California in its own backyard of the Scholl Canyon Ballfields.
It wasn't even close in the most recent chapter written by the two opponents, with Westchester cruising to a 12-0, five-inning victory after racking up 11 hits and benefiting from six CVFH errors. Despite the ugly loss, CVFH Coach Will Thayer’s confidence wasn’t close to being shaken.
“They put it on us, we made a bunch of errors, we got behind and it snowballed on us,” Thayer said. “It happens, I told them, ‘Any good team, the team that wins the [Major League Baseball] World Series will go 95-. They’re going to lose once in a while. We’ve won five games in a row, all we have to do is win three games in a row and we’re right back to it.’”
After escaping a first-inning jam started by an error and infield single, things turned worse for CVFH in the second. It was tagged for nine runs in the bottom half of the inning on seven Westchester Del Rey hits, a walk, three errors, two wild pitches and another misplayed ball in right field that proved costly.
Westchester forced CVFH to make a pitching change after 1 1/3 innings. It opened the inning with three hits. A walk and error later, it strung a trio of singles together for a 6-0 lead. Two more errors and a single led to three more tallies before the inning finally ended after a pitching change.
Westchester brought the mercy rule into play in the bottom of the fourth when it scored three runs on two hits, two errors, a wild pitch and passed ball for a 12-0 lead.
When it came to last year, Westchester Coach Brent Times assured his team remembers how its season ended in a 5-4 walk-off loss to CVFH.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a revenge thing, but we knew we have a good team and they have a good team,” Times said. “We came to play. They come to play, so I know next game is going to be a little bit tougher.”
All of CVFH’s highlights came on the defensive end. Taylor Schaffer and Camie Ellingford turned in nice leaping grabs in center field and second base, respectively.
CVFH had a golden opportunity to use its defensive momentum to create some offense after the first inning. It went down in order in the top of the second, though, on the heels of an impressive double play in the opening frame. The gem was executed by CVFH left fielder Claire Smith, who snagged a fly ball in left field and fired a strike home to cut down the lead runner tagging up from third.
CVFH was struck out more times than it had hits at a rate of four to three. Alex Howard, Therese Oshiro and Sophie Georges were the only Crescenta Valley-Foothill players to reach base, all via singles.
“It seems to be [Westchester is] a perennial powerhouse, as we are, at this level,” Thayer said. “I fully expected them to be good; I didn’t expect us to play this badly, I’ll be honest, and we did. I don’t expect to play this badly the next game, I guarantee you.”
CVFH will have to sweep the next three games to win the division championship, along with the District 16 and Section 2 crowns, in consecutive years. It will face South El Monte in a loser’s bracket game Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Scholl Canyon. The winner will advance to the final round, which begins Thursday at 7 p.m. at Scholl, and have to defeat Westchester twice to capture the title.
“I’ve won out of the loser’s bracket, so I’m not that concerned about it really,” Thayer said. “I don’t think they’ll play like that Wednesday. … I fully expect to win that game and be right back here and take it to Westchester.”