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La Cañada softball begins playoffs on winning note

LA CAÑADA — Batting in a new spot in the lineup has worked wonders for Alexis Abboud.

The La Cañada High softball player hit lead-off last season before being moved to the third spot this season.

Abboud turned in quite a hitting display Thursday, as she finished with two hits and two runs batted in to power host La Cañada to a 3-1 victory against West Valley in a CIF Southern Section Division V first-round contest.

La Cañada (21-4-1) will meet Maranatha in a second-round home game Tuesday. Maranatha posted a 2-1 win against Heritage in 10 innings Thursday.

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“You can see how Alexis loves hitting third,” said La Cañada coach Chuck Gunter, who guided the Spartans to their fourth straight Rio Hondo League championship. “She’s been coming up with the big hits all year and driving in runs. She came through big time today.”

Abboud had a two-run single to right that glanced off the first baseman’s glove to score Tia Leidelmeijer and Maddy Reilly with one out in the third inning to give the Spartans a 2-1 lead.

“I got an inside pitch that I was able to connect on and got the two runs in,” said Abboud, a first baseman who had a first-inning single. “It’s a different job batting third compared to batting first. You have a chance to drive in more runs and you always hope your first two hitters can get on base.

“I’ve gotten used to batting third now and I just feel like I can hit better in that spot.”

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La Cañada starting pitcher Holly Stoner yielded a first-inning run before shutting down West Valley (16-13), which finished second in the Mountain Pass League and recorded a 10-6 wild-card home win against Shadow Hills on Tuesday.

Stoner, a right-hander, limited the Mustangs to five hits and struck out five in a complete game outing.

West Valley took a 1-0 lead in the first on a ground out to second by Serana Herbranson that scored Alexis Crawford.

Stoner then took charge in the circle.

“They got the run in the first inning, but I felt like I was in control,” said Stoner, who struck out two in the sixth. “I got ahead in the count a lot and was able to hold them down once we took the lead.”

After Abboud’s go-ahead hit, the Spartans increased the lead to 3-1 on a ground out to third by Taryn Harris that scored Abboud in the third. La Cañada collected four hits in the inning.

The Spartans finished with eight hits, including two singles from designated hitter Devyn Cox.

“What I liked about the game was that we didn’t get rattled after giving up the first run,” said Gunter, whose squad lost to Arroyo in the first round last season. “They knew they could come back.”

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charles.rich@latimes.com

Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich


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