Pair of athletes make Spartan history

Anna Edwards donned Northwestern purple, while Lauren O'Leary wore Georgetown blue. The attire was a stark contrast to the Spartan maroon and gold the athletes usually wear.

The change in wardrobe for the La Cañada High senior softball stars indicated where they'll be attending college next year. O'Leary and Edwards are headed to Georgetown and Northwestern University, respectively, on four-year athletic scholarships.

It was history in the making, as the athletes autographed their letters of intent on the La Cañada campus Nov. 17. No Spartans had ever committed during the fall signing period before.

"I can't tell you how proud I am to be associated with these two girls," La Cañada High softball Coach KC Matthews said. "You guys both deserve absolutely everything you're getting."

Along with their athletic abilities, Edwards and O'Leary are also successful in the classroom. Both boast grade-point averages of 3.75 or above.

"[Georgetown] was my first school, so I'm really excited about that," said O'Leary, who visited the university's campus earlier in the year. "I knew the academics were good and I just love the coaches, the team and being in Washington, D.C."

It came down to Michigan and Northwestern University for Edwards, but in the end the Wolverines couldn't compete.

"I knew [Northwestern] was a top university, and their softball is really good, so it had everything I wanted," Edwards said. "When they offered me a scholarship I was ecstatic, so excited. I never thought I'd actually get the scholarship, and finally getting it was amazing."

Both Edwards and O'Leary had breakout seasons last year, but neither are one-year wonders. Both have been varsity starters for the Spartans' softball team since they were freshmen. Each year the pair has earned first-team Rio Hondo League honors, along with All-Area accolades and first-team All-CIF Southern Section Division V nods last year.

"If you look at the stats of these two young ladies, they have risen dramatically each year, which for me is scary," Matthews said.

Edwards led her team in nearly every offensive category last season, including batting average (.580), slugging percentage (1.034), runs (40), runs batted in (35), stolen bases (15), home runs (nine). She also had just four strikeouts in 88 at-bats. That earned her the Rio Hondo League's Most Valuable Player award.

"Honestly, it's not thinking, not doing anything, just what I know how to do and what I practice," said Edwards, revealing the secret to her success.

While Edwards provided the Spartans with offense last season, O'Leary kept opposing offenses quiet.

"Lauren did not allow an earned run or a walk during the entire league season last year, that's amazing," Matthews said.

Finishing the season with a 19-4 record, O'Leary boasted team-highs in innings pitched (114.2), strikeouts (165) and wins. She added a 0.61 earned-run average, while holding teams to a miniscule .126 batting average.

"You don't see this very often," Matthews said. "It makes a coach look good when you have two girls like this."

Although Edwards and O'Leary have their collegiate futures mapped out, they still have a final season of high-school softball to navigate. Both athletes are looking to guide the Spartans to more success this upcoming season after leading their team to a 25-5 (10-2 in league) record and a semifinal appearance in the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs.

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