La Canada wins state

While most people take their summer to relax, a group of a dozen 12-year-old girls from La Cañada were busy winning a championship.

For the first time ever, a 12-and-under La Cañada youth softball team won the state championship, garnering the honor on July 18 in Camarillo, as the La Cañada 12U Gold blew past Sylmar, 11-3, to claim the 2010 ASA (Amateur Softball Assn.) Southern California State Championship.

Last year, they got a taste of the state championship and they wouldn't be denied the second time around.

"The girls all worked really hard over the years," assistant Paul Thompson said. "This group is amazingly consistent. We always knew we had a good group of dedicated players. This year is sort of the pinnacle of everything. …They really blossomed over this year."

The girls played six different tournaments this summer and won three of them: the Carpenteria Beach Classic, the Western District Championships in La Cañada and, most importantly, took home the state title in Camarillo.

"They handled all three phases of the game really well and that's what it takes to be successful," assistant Jon Lam said. "Early on, the pitching and fielding was great, but the hitting wasn't there. What allowed us to go deep was all three phases coming together at the right time. When the hitting came around, things really took off."

Things went according to plan for La Cañada, but in ways it couldn't have expected.

"Personally, I thought we had the potential to make it to state this year," the team's catcher, Olivia Lam, said. "We had gone to the state tournament one other time, but this was the first time I thought we could win the whole thing."

La Cañada proved too much for any team to handle. It played five games and won them all.

"We were the first La Cañada 12-and-under team to win and the first La Cañada team to go through the [state] tournament without losing a game," Olivia Lam said. "When we got our last out in the championship game I remember all of the big smiles on our faces and the happy screams. I am so proud of our team."

The team's run differential in those five games was 44-8.

"Everyone told us we were the best defensive team they saw out there," Thompson said. "We have outstanding pitching and we felt we had the total package. If we scored runs we knew we would be OK."

They were better than OK.

La Cañada beat UC Del Sol and Central Orange on Friday to advance in the state tournament. On Saturday, they beat Pico Rivera and Sylmar to qualify for the championship game. The tournament finale placed La Cañada against Sylmar again and again La Cañada prevailed.

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