It was a rather extensive season in the circle for La Cañada softball pitcher Devyn Cox, but all that work paid off in the end.
The sophomore helped the Spartans seal their fifth consecutive Rio Hondo League title and her efforts earned her the All-League Pitcher of the Year recognition, with five, key role La Cañada players bestowed All-League team honors as well.
Spartans senior shortstop Emily Tinkham, sophomore outfielder Ella Polito and junior catcher Shannon Loveless were all-league first-team selections, while senior third baseman Katie Knudsen and sophomore outfielder Tia Leidelmeijer earned second-team honors.
“The girls set goals at the beginning of the year,” La Cañada coach Chuck Gunter said. “The first one is always to win league. Everyone expects us to win league, but it’s not going to happen every year. We had a young pitcher and had to replace a senior, so we weren’t sure if we would win league. The other schools are getting better.
“This year, Temple City and San Marino had a freshman pitcher that did very well, so next year’s going to be really interesting without my shortstop and my third baseman. It’s going to be a challenge.”
The Spartans wrapped up their season after a 2-1 loss to South El Monte in the CIF Southern Section Division IV second-round playoff game. Cox tossed a complete game and struck out four, while Tinkham knocked down a two-out RBI-single for the Spartans’ lone run of the game.
“It was good for Devyn because she has two more years,” Gunter said. “It’s just unfortunate for Tinkham and Katie that we didn’t have a little more depth because they could’ve gone far this year; a little farther than they did.”
Cox started all but one league game to finish with a 10-2 record and a 1.27 earned run average in 83 innings. The sophomore struck out 80 batters, scattered 56 hits, walked 23 and yielded 15 runs and two home runs.
“This was a new experience for her having to pitch full games,” Gunter said. “We had a plan to have someone to get some of her innings and to give her a rest every now and then, but that didn’t work out so well.”
Though Tinkham, who will continue her softball career at Ohio State University, was intentionally walked 18 times throughout the league campaign, she still averaged .455 for 15 hits, 15 runners batted in, seven home runs and 21 runs scored in 33 at-bats.
“She’s feared,” said Gunter of Tinkham, who was named Rio Hondo League Most Valuable Player as a sophomore in 2016. “She’s been feared by everyone since she was a freshman … She’s so capable that every time she swings, she hits a home run.”
Polito hit .386 with 17 hits, 13 RBIs and one home run. Loveless, named to the first-team as a utility player, averaged .340 with 16 hits and seven RBIs.
Leidelmeijer recorded a .206 batting average with seven hits, six runs scored an one runner batted in. Knudsen, who is headed to the University of Oregon, led the Spartans with a .469 batting average with 23 hits, 15 RBIs, 17 runs scored and nine doubles. She also knocked out two home runs.
“She was bouncing the ball off the fence every game,” said Gunter of Knudsen. “She would hit in our winning RBIs; she just came through all year-round.”