It was impossible for Anna Edwards and Lauren O'Leary to surprise their La Cañada High Coach, KC Mathews, this season.
Mathews was never shocked with the performances of the two seniors. It didn't matter if Edwards went four for four with two homers, or O'Leary pitched a perfect game or a no-hitter, or both put their team on their backs in the CIF Southern Section Division V finals to lead the Spartans to their first CIF Division championship since 1995. Mathews always expected them to accomplish great things.
"Players like Anna and Lauren O'Leary, they play at such a high level all the time, there are no peaks and valleys with them. They are just consistently outstanding," Mathews said.
There's no doubt La Cañada wouldn't have captured its second softball championship without the services of Edwards and O'Leary. The players' performances during the regular season earned them the title of Most Valuable Player and Pitcher, respectively, in Rio Hondo League.
Edwards was named the league's Most Valuable Player after finished the season with team highs in batting average (.471, 41 for 87), on-base percentage (.569), slugging percentage (1.011), home runs (12), RBI (31) and stolen bases (10). Defensively, she anchored La Cañada's infield at shortstop as well.
It wasn't rare to see her completely take over a game offensively, either. She had three two-homer games this season, including one in the second round of the playoffs against Hemet.
If Edwards or other players brought the offense, O'Leary usually hand-wrapped the win in the circle. She finished the season with a 25-2 record and started all but two games for the Spartans. She had 23 complete games, 16 shutouts and 237 strikeouts while issuing just 27 walks. Batters facing O'Leary could only manage to put up a 0.39 earned-run average, a .137 batting average and a .187 one-base percentage.
Plenty of other Spartans helped La Cañada realize its championship dreams as well this year, and seven other players were selected to Rio Hondo League's first and second teams. Catherine Horner, Aubri Thompson, Jessica Ogden and Shirley Drange were all named to Rio Hondo League's first team.
Horner, a junior catcher, drastically improved on what was an already impressive sophomore season. She raised nearly all of her offensive numbers, including batting average (.365 to .421), OBP (.398 to .457) and slugging percentage (.542 to .621) from 2010 to 2011. She also scored 24 runs, drove in 17 runs and smashed a team-high 12 doubles to go along with two triples and a homer.
There was more to Horner than offense. She handled O'Leary and her array of pitches behind the plate and didn't hesitate to gun down base runners if they were attempting to steal, or just took too big a lead from their base.
"She's got a gun, I swear no one tries to run on her," said Megan Siepler, La Cañada's senior second baseman, of Horner early in the season. Horner threw out .696 percent (16 of 23) of the runners who tried to steal on her and finished the season with a 1.000 fielding percentage.
Thompson, a sophomore at third, posted a .315 batting average (23 for 73), .388 OBP, .397 slugging percentage, drove in 15 runs and scored nine times. She also drove in two big runs in the Spartans' CIF semifinal game against South El Monte to secure a 6-2 La Cañada victory.
Ogden, La Cañada's sophomore left fielder, batted .312 (20 for 64), scoring 12 times and driving in seven runs. Drange, a senior, played right field and packed some punch. She finished the season with a .253 batting average (16 for 58), .493 slugging percentage, 14 run batted in, 13 runs, 10 doubles, two home runs and a triple.
Three other Spartans — Siepler, Kelsey Drange and Kayla McCue — rounded out Rio Hondo's second team.
Siepler earned second-team honors after hitting .286 (24 for 84), slugging .476, scoring 15 runs and posting 12 RBI. Kelsey, Shirley's sister and a sophomore first baseman, provided some pop from the No. 2 spot in La Cañada's lineup. She batted .241 (20 for 83) and drove in 10 runs, scoring 10 more. McCue, a senior, rounded out a solid outfield, defensively and offensively, for the Spartans. She hit .276 (16 for 58), scored 10 runs and drove in two RBI.
La Cañada's entire lineup, top to bottom, worked hard all season and deserved to win the CIF Southern Section Division V championship, Mathews said.
"They worked so darn hard and put in so much," Mathews said. "They sacrificed a lot, and when you do that, it makes it all that much more special when you reach those goals."