LA CAÑADA — After picking up a regular-season finale road victory Friday, the San Marino High softball team boarded its team bus awaiting word as to whether it was, in fact, headed to the playoffs.
The ride back to San Marino proved to be joyful when the Titans found out they would appear in the postseason after a coin flip took place.
San Marino received a home run each from Larissa Phillips and Raquel Edwards to register a 7-3 Rio Hondo League victory against La Cañada, which had won two straight CIF Southern Section Division V championships coming into the season.
"We are just glad to be able to make the playoffs," said San Marino Coach Dimkich, whose team improved to 15-7-1 and 7-5 in league after getting an eight-strikeout performance from University of Arizona-bound pitcher Michelle Floyd. "We are real happy.
"We made it a complete day by winning the game and getting into the playoffs."
La Cañada (13-14, 7-5) had an opportunity to share the league championship with Temple City (8-4 in league) with a victory against San Marino. However, the chance was squandered, resulting in La Cañada, Monrovia and San Marino all finishing tied for second place.
That led to a coin flip being held about an hour after the conclusion of the contest involving the three second-place squads from the five-team league. Monrovia won the flip to grab the second seeding from the league. San Marino grabbed the third and final automatic bid from the league by beating La Cañada in head-to-head competition (3-0).
The Spartans can't petition for an at-large entry into the Division IV playoffs. According to by-law 3214.1 of the CIF Southern Section blue book: "In all team sports other than basketball, football and wrestling, more than three entries may be permitted to enter the playoffs to fill any byes which exist in the opening round or to create wild card contests. The wild card contests will be for third-place teams that did not fit into the original draw and for fourth-place teams (from leagues with five or six teams) or fifth place teams (from leagues with seven or more teams) that meet wild card criteria (.500 or better over all record)."
La Cañada Coach KC Mathews said the Spartans came up short.
"It's tough to be out of the playoffs because we worked real hard and it's a tough way for our seniors to go out," Mathews said. "We had a lot of opportunities and that's all you can ask for."
The Titans, who posted a 4-1 home win against the Spartans on Wednesday, grabbed a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning. Phillips hit a towering solo home run to left.
The Spartans tied it at 1 on a fielder's choice by Olivia Lam in the second. San Marino bounced back to take a 2-1 lead on an error by the shortstop.
San Marino made it 3-1 in the fourth on a sacrifice fly to left by Kelly Crowley. La Cañada matched the run in its half of the inning when Floyd uncorked a wild pitch that scored Selina Mohr.
The Titans broke the game up with a three-run fifth. Phillips delivered a run-scoring single to make it 4-2 before Edmonds followed with a two-run home run to center to extend the advantage to 6-2.
"We were able to hang in there and that was such a big home run," Dimkich said. "It's a good all-around team effort.
"Michelle mixed up her pitches well and that's a good team we beat."
Crowley had a run-scoring single in the sixth to pad the lead to 7-2. A sacrifice fly to right by Aubri Thompson in the seventh capped the scoring.
Floyd said the Spartans provided a stern test.
"They have always been a big rival and to get three wins against them this season is great," said Floyd, who limited La Cañada to seven hits in going the distance. "We knew it would be a battle right until the end.
"It's never easy when you play them."
San Marino received two hits apiece from Caitlyn Callhan, Edmonds and Phillips.
La Cañada got two hits each from Katy Lee and Annie Monroe.
"The bottom line is that we had some opportunities early, but just couldn't get over the hump," Mathews said. "Michelle is a real tough pitcher.
"It's a tall order when you have to face her."