By Brandon HENSLEY
It was a different kind of season in 2012 for the Crescenta Valley softball team. The Falcons were playing without their longtime coach Dan Berry, who passed away several months before the season began. In Berry’s place came Mark Samford and, along with assistant coach Ashleigh Viers-Gordillo, the Falcons went 20-7.
But they didn’t win the Pacific League, something Berry’s teams did 20 times previously, and ended up losing to Notre Dame in a wild card playoff round.
So far, the Falcons are 3-3-1 heading into today’s league opener against Muir.
CV has a young nucleus, with only six seniors on the roster of 16. But with last year’s experience behind them, Samford thinks this year the team can go further in CIF.
“My feeling is we should exceed last year’s team,” he said.
One reason for that will be senior catcher Jessica Morena. Though catcher Allie Lacey, who played four years on varsity, is now gone, Samford is very high on Morena’s ability to Lacey’s place.
“I think Jessica Morena will do a great job behind the plate … We’re lucky in that while [Lacey] made valuable contributions the last four years, we have someone that’s going to be just as valuable this year.”
“There’s a lot of pressure on my shoulders,” said Morena. “I know I’m going to be looked upon to help out a lot on the field and off.”
But she said she isn’t sweating the expectations. She plays on a travel team and works out with a personal trainer to get her ready for what’s to come.
“I’m not getting signs from the coaches,” she said. “I’m calling my own signs. I always look at the batter to see how they’re positioned, to see where to throw the ball. It does take a big toll on my body.”
CV will again count on junior pitchers Olivia Thayer and Chloe Fairbrother. Samford said both have been working hard in the off-season.
Talent-wise, it will be the Cookson sisters, junior Hannah and sophomore Hailey, to be sparks in the field and at the plate. Samford said Hannah will lead by example and Hailey is more laid back, but an intense competitor.
“They’re both different girls, obviously really good players,” Samford said.