KC Mathews knew he had something special in freshmen Lauren O’Leary and Anna Edwards when he first came on to coach La Cañada High’s softball team four years ago.
“This senior class was my first class, and that makes a coach look really good when that’s your freshman class,” Mathews said earlier in the season. “They haven’t disappointed.”
The Spartans’ most dominant duo over the past four years, O’Leary and Edwards went on to accomplish just about everything they possibly could in high school: incredible individual performances and season statistics, and a CIF Southern Section Division V championship. Now they can add one more thing to the list — All-CIF Southern Section Division V honors.
O’Leary was named the Division V Player of the Year, Edwards was a first-team Division V selection and Mathews received Coach of the Year honors after guiding La Cañada to its first CIF Southern Section championship since 1995. The team also went 26-3 and captured a Rio Hondo League title with a 12-0 showing.
O’Leary, the Spartans’ ace pitcher, was capable of shutting down the opposition and nearly winning games by herself. She gave up an average of just 2.6 hits and less than a run in playoff games this year, and she maintained a 0.39 earned-run average the entire season. She finished the season with a 25-2 record, started all but two games for La Cañada and ended the year with 23 complete games, 16 shutouts and 237 strikeouts with just 27 walks.
By the end of the season, Mathews was repeating himself.
“We’ve come to expect this of her, she’s done it all four years,” said Mathews, referring to O’Leary’s propensity for dominating the opposing lineup.
It wasn’t uncommon for Edwards to give O’Leary the little run support she needed in the playoffs. Edwards had two three-homer games this season, including one against Hemet in the second round of the playoffs. She also gave the Spartans their only run in the championship game against Beaumont, with a solo shot.
“I don’t think there’s a coach around that would mind having Anna come up in a clutch situation,” Mathews said. “I don’t care what level you’re at.”
Edwards received All-CIF first-team honors after she collected 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) this year.
“She’s a fierce competitor,” Mathews said. “One of the things that makes Anna as good as she is, on top of her athletic ability, is she’s very driven.”
The pair’s softball careers are far from over. O’Leary and Edwards will look to continue to bring in accolades in college. O’Leary is headed to Georgetown University and Edwards is bound for Northwestern University.