Still alive in CIF play

LA Canada

What better time for the La Cañada softball squad to set a season-high in runs scored than the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs.

The pitching had always been there for the Spartans, who shut out 15 opponents during the regular season, and allowed more than three runs just once.

Meanwhile, La Cañada, the Rio Hondo League champion, averaged just under five runs a game.

Both the team's offense and defense dominated equally in its playoff opener May 20, resulting in a 15-0 victory against visiting Sierra Vista of Baldwin Park.

The Spartans' good fortunes continued Tuesday when they were able to hold off host Northview to earn a 4-3 win in a second-round contest.

The win sets up a quarterfinal game at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at La Cañada. The Spartans will host Savanna, which defeated Heritage, 3-1, Tuesday in a second-round game. Savanna (26-3) won the Orange League championship.

"Our bats are coming around," La Cañada Coach KC Mathews said. "We executed well at the plate and on the bases."

Against Sierra Vista, the Spartans (24-4) exploded for 15 hits to match their number of runs, while starting pitcher Lauren O'Leary and relief pitcher Lauren Cox held the Dons to only two hits combined — both off the bat of Sierra Vista's starting pitcher, Monica Gomez.

Cox gave up no hits and struck out seven batters after relieving O'Leary in the fifth inning with the Spartans leading, 11-0, and the game well in hand.

O'Leary did her part by setting the tone early, striking out the side in the first inning en route to six Ks of her own.

Neither pitcher allowed a Sierra Vista runner to advance into scoring position.

"Everything is coming together right now," said O'Leary, who also walked one batter. "Perfect timing."

The La Cañada offense scored four runs in the third inning to blow the game open. However, it was small ball in the second inning that gave the Spartans the only runs they would need.

With two out and Annie Monroe on first, Megan Siepler singled, advancing Monroe to third. With runners on the corners, Mathews decided to try a double steal. The play worked, as Sierra Vista chose to catch Siepler in a rundown, letting Monroe score. However, an error allowed Siepler to get back to first, and, more importantly, extended the inning.

Gomez then walked Shirley Drange on a wild pitch, which allowed Siepler to get to third base after having advanced to second on a previous wild pitch. That set up another double-steal opportunity.

This time, Siepler scored, and another error was committed on the rundown.

"The girls executed the play," Mathews said. "Gotta give them props for that."

Gomez looked rattled after that, giving up four runs on three hits and two walks in the third. She surrendered another four runs in the fourth inning before being pulled.

Leadoff hitter Anna Edwards got things started in the third inning with a single and a stolen base that eventually brought her home, thanks to a double by Catherine Horner.

Edwards doubled the next inning, bringing home Aubri Thompson for the eighth run of the contest.

"We're confident, but we don't want to get overconfident," Edwards said. "All the teams deserve to be here."

Selina Mohr contributed to the onslaught on offense with three runs batted in. Horner added her second RBI in the fourth.

The Spartans have won 11 of their last 12 games, but more importantly, advance in the playoffs. Their domination on both sides of the ball in the first-round contest had the opposing coach making predictions.

"They're going to win Division V," Sierra Vista Coach Jerry Osegura said. "They're the best team right now."

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