Spartans swing into CIF

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — If there was any doubt, the La Cañada High softball team proved it’s ready for the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs in its regular-season finale Thursday.

It was the bats that did the talking for the Spartans, who racked up 17 hits in a five-inning 10-0 mercy-rule victory over Rio Hondo League opponent South Pasadena in five innings.

“We had good at-bats and that’s what I’m looking for,” La Cañada Coach KC Mathews said. “The fact our girls are seeing the ball and going with those outside pitches, driving the ball up the middle and to the right side is what really sticks out to me.”

Five players — Katy Lee, Catherine Horner, Annie Monroe, Lauren Cox and Selina Mohr — had multi-hit games for La Cañada (21-4-1, 10-1-1 in league). It was the two seniors, Cox and Horner, who stood out most against South Pasadena (8-14, 4-8) on their senior day, as both finished three for three with a home run and three runs batted in.

“It was a coincidence because Catherine and I both hit [home runs on senior day], and we kind of left our mark on the field,” said Cox, who also struck out eight batters and gave up two hits and two walks in the circle. “It’s really nice to be able to do what we did and lay it all out there.”

Horner and Cox put on a show in the bottom of the fifth. Horner drilled the first pitch of her at-bat over the left field fence for a solo homer and Cox repeated the feat two batters later when she bashed a two-run homer to left, which scored Monroe (three for three) for a 9-0 lead.

Ironically enough with all the firepower, it was a bases-loaded walk that ended the game in the bottom of the fifth. Horner drew the free pass to score Mohr (two for three, RBI), who reached with a lead-off infield single, to put the mercy rule into effect. Lee (three for four) and Olivia Leyva loaded the bases for Horner with two straight singles.

Now the Spartans, who are ranked No. 1 in Division V, can shift their focus to the postseason with the playoff brackets set to be released by the CIF Southern Section office Monday at 11 a.m.

La Cañada will look to defend its Division V crown with a possible championship rematch with Beaumont in the cards. The Cougars — who the Spartans defeated, 1-0, for the crown last year — enter the playoffs as the No. 2 team in Division V.

“[Last year] is definitely on the radar, it’s hard not to have it on the radar, but we just have to do our best,” Horner said. “I feel like we can win CIF, if we work hard I think we can get there.”

Mathews won’t let his team get in front of itself, though.

“I just want them to show up everyday,” Mathews said “I want them to show up Monday [for practice] and start working hard, and they want to, too. This is important to them, too. They keep reminding me they’ve been working hard all year. They’ll show up on Monday ready to go.”

The Spartans were ready out of the gate Thursday, as they struck for three runs on four hits in the first inning.

La Cañada used six hits and capitalized on two defensive miscues in the Tigers outfield for three more runs in the third. Alyssa Stolmack and Mohr each drove in a run in the inning with a single and double, respectively.

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