La Cañada High softball's Olivia Leyva nabs All-CIF honor

After a historic run to consecutive CIF Southern Section Division V championships, the La Cañada High softball team was unable to finish out the season with the same accomplishments this time around.

However, following in the tradition of Spartans stars such as Lauren Cox, Anna Edwards, Catherine Horner and Lauren O’Leary, La Cañada junior utility Olivia Leyva earned All-CIF honors.

Released Tuesday afternoon, the All-CIF Southern Section Division IV first team had a spot for Leyva and, despite, his team missing out on the playoffs, Spartans Coach KC Mathews wasn’t surprised by the honor.

“I would’ve been disappointed if she didn’t make it. The fact of the matter is the schedule that we play, the competition that we play, is a step up from what most Division IV teams play. Ultimately, that hurt us getting into the playoffs, but it showed how Olivia is. She was doing it against Division I, Division II and Division III teams throughout the year,” Mathews said. “Surprised? No. Because she had a tremendous year and earned every bit of it. We’re very proud of her.”

In 25 games, Leyva led the Spartans with a .405 batting average (30 for 74) to go with a team-leading 28 runs, 30 runs batted in, seven doubles, three triples and six home runs. In addition, she had six stolen bases, a .476 on-base percentage and a .824 slugging percentage.

“I’ve been working really hard to improve my game,” Leyva said. “I just wanted to make sure I was ready to step up and fulfill my duties.”

It was a huge improvement from her sophomore season, in which she hit .282 with 14 runs, 11 RBI and two extra-base hits (both doubles).

Leyva was also an All-Rio Hondo League first-team honoree, acclaim she garnered as a soccer player in the winter, as well.

“She’s a tremendous athlete,” said Mathews of Leyva, who played shortstop and the outfield and could play just about anywhere next season. “The school is lucky to have her.”

And she’s an athlete with one season left on the pitch and the diamond.

The Spartans softball team finished 7-5 in league for a three-way second-place tie, but missed out on an automatic playoff entry when they lost a coin flip. A shot at an at-large berth was lost as the team went 13-14 and couldn’t petition for an at-large bid as it didn’t have a .500 record — largely due to an arduous nonleague record.

Nonetheless, Leyva is one of 11 returners for the Spartans who are plenty motivated for next season.

“We still had a good run, but it was a bit disappointing,” Leyva said. “So, we are definitely motivated for next year.”

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