La Cañada's 12U-Gold softball team ended its tournament season with a remarkable show of strength and endurance to finish second in the Amateur Softball Association's Pacific Regional Championship Tournament at San Diego.
In the three-day double-elimination tournament, sponsored by the U.S. Olympic Committee, La Cañada entered the loser bracket in the second round but responded by winning six consecutive games — including four wins in back-to-back time slots on the final day to take the silver medal.
After an opening round 11-0 win against Delano, La Cañada uncharacteristically stumbled with walks and errors against Morgan Hill, losing 6-2 while allowing no hits.
Faced with a daunting mountain to climb in the loser bracket, the team responded with a vengeance by outscoring its next six opponents by a combined score of 64-7.
After a 10-2 win over Pico Rivera, La Cañada defeated the NorCal region champion Cabrillo Crushers of Capitola, breaking open a close game with a 12-run fourth inning offensive barrage, highlighted by Stephanie Bathke's bases-loaded triple and Selina Mohr's two-RBI single.
La Cañada opened the tournament's final day with a 10-2 victory over Five Cities of Arroyo Grande, including a grand slam by Sumner Hanula and a bases-loaded triple by Catherine Horner, setting up a much-anticipated rematch versus Morgan Hill.
Bathke began the rematch with a towering leadoff home run. In a six-run second inning, Aubri Thompson, Emily Valencia and Mohr singled, followed by a RBI-walk to Jenna Galper and RBI hits from Bathke, Kelly Trueblood, Hanula and Horner, leaving the rest to the defense and Bathke, who pitched the 10-0 shutout win.
Lauren Cox then pitched her second game of the day and recorded an 8-0 shutout win against Ramona, supported by a three-RBI double from Horner and Thompson's two-RBI double.
The game ended in style as centerfielder Valencia threw out a Ramona runner at the plate attempting to score from second on a single. Now assured of a medal, La Cañada won its fourth game of the day, defeating Santa Cruz, 11-3.
Cox and Bathke shared pitching duty and led the offense — Cox hammering two triples and a double and Bathke hitting two doubles.
Excited to have reached the championship game, an exhausted La Cañada team played its fifth game of the day against a fresh and hard-hitting El Cajon team from the winner's bracket, staying within two runs for the first three innings, but eventually running out of steam in an 11-3 loss.
La Cañada finished its six-tournament season with a record of 29-6, winning two tournaments, finishing second in three and fourth in another, while receiving numerous comments from umpires, tournament organizers and opponents about the team's outstanding sportsmanship.