TEMPLE CITY — Any time the La Cañada High softball team has Olivia Leyva on base, it’s a good sign.
That again proved to be the case Friday, when La Cañada met host Temple City in a Rio Hondo League contest.
Leyva had two hits, stole three bases and scored two runs to help La Cañada pick up a 7-3 win.
“Olivia brings everything to us, from being steady on offense and defense to providing leadership,” said La Cañada Coach KC Mathews, whose team improved to 14-7, 7-2 and is trailing Monrovia (8-1) by a game in the standings. “She’s very aggressive and she puts a lot of pressure on the other teams.
“That’s something good to have. It works in our favor quite often.”
For good measure, Leyva also shined at shortstop. The senior, who helped the school’s girls’ soccer team advance to the CIF Southern Section Division V title match in the winter, finished with five assists and two putouts.
“Once you get on base, you try to find ways to score,” Leyva said. “You just try not to think negative once you get on base.
“It’s definitely a big win for us. We wanted to come out early and try to do some damage.”
The Spartans turned to Leyva to get things going in the first inning. Leyva was hit by a pitch on the first pitch of the game and stole second before scoring on a double by Olivia Lam.
Leyva’s speed paid dividends for the Spartans in the third. With Leyva on third and Megan Reilly on first with one out, the Spartans attempted to execute a double steal. Leyva scored easily, while Reilly was called out at second base. On the play, Reilly’s spikes caught Temple City shortstop Jazmine Lewis on the left shin. Lewis was helped off the field before receiving treatment near the Temple City dugout, leading to an 18-minute delay.
The Spartans scored five runs in the seventh to put the contest out of reach. Olivia Lam hit a two-run home run over the left-field fence to make it 4-0.
“We knew we’d need more than two runs to win the game,” said Lam, a catcher. “We had to try to get the ball rolling.
“I got an inside pitch that I could handle and it felt good coming off the bat.”
Kara Thompson of La Cañada then had a two-run single to pad the lead to 6-0. A run-scoring double by Julia Harbolt made it 7-0.
Temple City, which won the league championship last season, scored three runs in its half of the seventh to close out the scoring after La Cañada starting pitcher Maddy MacKenzie had previously retired 10 batters in a row.
The Rams (9-9, 4-5) loaded the bases with two outs when Juliette Marini had a run-scoring single to left to make it 7-1. The ball got past the La Cañada left fielder, allowing two more runs to score to pull the Rams to within 7-3. MacKenzie, who finished with three strikeouts, then got a grounded out to second to seal the victory.
Mathews, who piloted the Spartans to CIF Southern Section championships in 2011 and 2012, said La Cañada was fortunate to register some insurance runs.
“You need every run you can get against that team” Mathews said. “We have three games left in league and we want to be able to finish up strong.”