By Brandon HENSLEY
he hadn’t pitched in two weeks, but it sure didn’t look like it. Crescenta Valley High School softball pitcher Adela Alatraca dominated the Hoover Tornadoes’ lineup as the Falcons opened the Pacific League portion of their season with a 15-0 win at Hoover on Tuesday.
Alatraca struck out 11 batters while giving up just one hit over five innings. Crescenta Valley’s offense put the game away in the top of the fifth, scoring 10 runs on seven hits and several Hoover errors. After Alatraca retired the side in order in the bottom of the fifth, the game was called due to the mercy rule.
“She was hitting her spots. She had movement,” said first-year Falcon Coach Amanda Peek. “That’s what we’re working on.”
Alatraca had been sidelined leading up to the start of league. She cut her left index finger, and showed off the bandage after the game. Even though the injury is not on her pitching hand, she had to take time off to let it heal.
“When the ball would hit it, it opened up more,” she said. “I had to tape it up even more and put more gauze to make sure it wouldn’t open up. If it did, I’d be out for the first two weeks of league. You don’t want to risk that.”
Crescenta Valley (6-3, 1-0 in league) plays today at Pasadena at 3:30 p.m.
Alatraca allowed a single with two out in the fourth inning, the first and only hit of the game for the Tornadoes. The Falcons were up 5-0 at the time. While their offense gradually came alive, including a late home run by catcher Sydney Wells, they also took advantage of some laziness by the home team.
In the fourth inning, Wells scored from third base when Hoover catcher Deana Cruz’s errant throw-back went over the pitcher and into centerfield. In the fifth, another run came home when the left fielder dropped a pop fly.
Of course, none of that mattered because of how Alatraca performed. The senior said it was important to keep focused and maintain proper spin on the ball. That way, her pitches break the way she wants. On Tuesday, everything was working.
“It was here, the mental game,” Peek said about Alatraca, pointing to her head. “She’s been working on that. She had [good command]. It’s her senior year. She wants to go out with a bang.”
Alatraca has been on the varsity squad for three years, pitching and playing second base. But Olivia Thayer, who graduated last year, was the starter for CV in the circle during that time. Alatraca said she watched Thayer and picked up a few things.
“I saw how Olivia was mentally strong and focused, and I knew I needed to be that leader as a pitcher,” she said.
The Falcons are young and inexperienced. Gone are mainstays Thayer, Chloe Fairbrother, Taylor Hill and Hannah Cookson, who is now at Long Beach State. But Alatraca is still here and if she can pitch like she did on Tuesday for the rest of the season, her team could defy expectations. The talk of the league is still Burbank and their starting pitcher Caitlyn Brooks. For now, Peek is okay with flying under the radar.
“People are counting us out, and that’s fine. We’re going to go out there and play our game, and make the least mistakes,” she said.
Baseball Wins Close One
The CV baseball team rebounded from a rough first inning Tuesday at Hoover High School to edge the Tornadoes 5-4.
Starting pitcher Jimmy Smiley gave up four runs on five hits in the bottom of the first, but he settled down and pitched into the fourth inning. It was in that inning CV scored four runs to take a 5-4 lead, including Smiley’s two-run double to centerfield that were the go-ahead runs. Relief pitcher Scott Vinceri recorded the first two outs in the sixth before CV Coach Phil Torres brought in ace Brian Gadsby.
Gadbsy gave up two singles before striking out Fidel Hernandez on a pitch low and away. With a runner on in the seventh and CV clinging to its lead, Gadsby struck out the last two batters, the last one coming on a high strike that caught batter JP Gallegos looking.
The win didn’t mean the coaching staff was necessarily happy. Torres was incredulous two times late in the game. In the top of the seventh with a runner on, Chase Walker was hit by a pitch and ran to first base, but the home plate umpire called him back, saying he leaned into the pitch. No one on the CV side agreed. Walker eventually struck out, and the Falcons did not score.
In the bottom of the frame, shortstop Ryan Lynch made a spinning throw to get the runner at first base. The field umpire called him out, but after meeting with the other umpire, he was ruled safe. Again, Torres and some of the Falcons fans voiced their displeasure.
But Gadsby, who will be pitching at UCLA next season, made sure that ruling would not harm his team. The Falcons improved to 10-2 on the season. They play Friday at Pasadena at 3:30 p.m.