Power shift sees La Cañada High softball fall to Monrovia

LA CAÑADA — In a first-place matchup between Rio Hondo League heavyweights, there was no shortage of power for either the La Cañada High softball team or visiting Monrovia.

On Friday night, both teams belted two home runs each.

But Monrovia added a pair of off-the-wall run-scoring doubles to get the better of the Spartans in a rainy 8-6 league victory.

PHOTOS: Pair of doubles leads Monrovia to 8-6 victory over LCHS

“There’s some power in both lineups. That's a very good hitting team right there,” said La Cañada Coach KC Mathews, whose Spartans lost for the second time in league, the first coming against Temple City and both defeats coming against teams they had previously defeated.

The hosts dropped to 12-7, 5-2 in Rio Hondo League play while the visiting Wildcats improved to 15-4, 7-1.

Though La Cañada got the best of the Wildcats, 8-3, on their homefield earlier in the month, the Wildcats jumped all over the Spartans early.

Spartans pitcher Maddie MacKenzie allowed walks to two of the first three batters in the first inning before Adrienne Guerra lifted a sacrifice fly into left field, bringing leadoff hitter Elise McCarthy home from third. MacKenzie walked a third batter before escaping the inning without further damage.

The Spartans responded loudly in their half of the inning. Katy Lee and Olivia Lam hit consecutive singles before Olivia Leyva drilled a 3-2 pitch over the right field wall for a home run and a 3-1 lead.

But the home team’s bats went silent for the next four innings while Monrovia went to work.

The Wildcats used four hits in the second, capped by a towering solo home run from Guerra, to score five runs and grab a 6-3 lead they would not surrender.

McCarthy hit a deep drive earlier in the inning that fell for a double and drove in Shelbi Zernickow from third. A costly error allowed two runs to score instead of forcing the second out of the inning. A pair of passed balls led to another run.

Brooke Mann led off the third with a home run for the Wildcats’ seventh run of the game. MacKenzie retired the next two batters before putting runners on first and second with consecutive singles. She got out of the jam by inducing a lineout to center, but that would be her last pitch.

“You don't put a ball exactly where you want it against a team like that and they can do some damage with it,” Mathews said. “Maddy's an experienced pitcher, a good pitcher and she's gonna come back and she'll be just fine.”

Sophomore Hannah Hielson took the mound in the fourth and allowed just two hits over the next three innings, giving the Spartans their chance to strike.

“Hannah came in and did a great job moving the ball around on them,” Mathews said.

On a night when the hosts held a 50/50 raffle including four tickets to a Los Angeles Dodgers’ game in support of the American Cancer Society in their annual “Strike Out Cancer” benefit, the Spartans refused to quit.

Katy Lee kicked off a sixth-inning rally by reaching first on a bunt which third baseman Victoria Gutierrez mishandled. Lam promptly smacked the first pitch she saw well over the left field fence to cut the lead to 7-5.

Leyva then drew a full-count walk and Brenna Gay followed with a single to left and both runners advanced an extra base on a fielding miscue. After Michelle Grochow grounded out to short for the first out, Kara Thompson stepped in and hit an RBI groundout to pull the Spartans within one.

But McCarthy would not be denied. She laced a double to the left field wall in the top of the seventh to bring Gutierrez home and provide some insurance.

The Spartans attempted another rally as pinch-hitter Megan Reilly led off with an infield single and Michelle Musso moved her to second on a sacrifice bunt. But Guerra struck out Lee and got Lam to pop out to first to end the threat.

“That's a good high school softball game, a little bit of everything, “ Mathews said. “It's a great night, good cause, two good teams playing good softball. You can't ask for much more except for maybe a ‘W.’”

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