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La Cañada softball rallies past Monrovia to remain in first in league

La Cañada softball rallies past Monrovia to remain in first in league
La Cañada pitcher Devyn Cox struck out 10 to help the Spartans register a 7-3 Rio Hondo League home win against Monrovia on Friday. (Tim Berger | Staff Photographer)

LA CAÑADA — Trailing in Rio Hondo League games isn’t something the La Cañada High softball team is used to.

However, La Cañada found itself in that situation during a league home contest against Monrovia on Friday. The Spartans made sure to do something about overcoming a late deficit and remain in first place.

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The comeback came suddenly, as Alex Schwalbach hit a go-ahead two-run home run to highlight a four-run fifth inning and lift La Cañada to a 7-3 victory.

The Spartans (15-5-1, 9-2 in league) remained a half game ahead of Temple City (8-2) in the race for the league championship. La Cañada has played one more game than Temple City and the Spartans and Rams will meet in a regular-season finale Thursday at La Cañada.

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Schwalbach broke a 3-3 deadlock with a home run to left-center field to give the Spartans, who have won four straight league titles, a 5-3 lead.

“We knew we had to come together and start a rally,” Schwalbach said. “It’s just fantastic to hit the home run, especially on a 3-2 pitch because it’s the best-hitting situation.

“If you see a pitch and you like it on 3-2, then you feel like you can get that sweet swing. It felt good coming off the bat.”

Monrovia (6-17, 2-9) took a 3-1 lead in the fifth on a two-run home run to left by Alexis Barroso.

La Cañada tied it at 3 in the bottom of the inning on a two-run single by Ella Polito before Schwalbach gave the Spartans the lead for good.

“We were losing and sometimes we have a tendency to get into our own heads,” said Polito, who finished with three singles. “We just knew it was important to stay calm in that situation and we were able to.

“On the hit, I got a change-up and waiting on the pitch before getting the hit. It’s a great way to rally like that.”

La Cañada coach Chuck Gunter said the Spartans were able to adjust.

“The third time around when you’ve seen a pitcher, we know our players can make adjustments at the plate,” Gunter said. “You just figure you’ll be able to get something good to hit and they responded right there.

“Alex has stepped up these last two games by coming through on offense and defense.”

The Spartans scored two runs in the sixth to seal the victory.

Shannon Loveless (three hits) drove in a run to make it 6-3 before stealing home later in the inning.

The Wildcats and Spartans each scored a run in the second.

Monrovia took a 1-0 lead on an error by the shortstop. La Cañada responded with a run on an error by the first baseman.

La Cañada received three hits from Devyn Cox, who went the distance in the circle. Cox, a right-hander, struck out 10 and yielded four hits.

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