By Brandon HENSLEY
Her voice was scratchy, but her play on the field? Super smooth.
It is often said that left-handers have the sweetest swings in baseball and softball, and Crescenta Valley High School’s Hannah Cookson certainly exemplified that Tuesday afternoon in a 10-0 home victory over Glendale High School.
Cookson was three-for-three against Glendale pitcher Jordan Lousararian, including two home runs, one of them a grand slam, driving in a whopping seven runs. She was a battling a minor sickness this week, and said her focus was mostly on that instead of the game.
“I was kind of not focused because I’m sick, so I think that worked out well,” she said.
That was an understatement. After a somewhat slow start against Lousararian, the Falcons put together three runs in the third inning and then blew the game open in the fourth with six runs on seven hits, as the lineup batted around.
The 10-run mercy rule was applied and the game was called after Crescenta Valley shut Glendale down in the top of the fifth inning.
Falcons’ pitcher Olivia Thayer pitched five innings for the win, striking out six and walking one.
The win improved the Falcon’s record to 7-5 overall, 2-1 in the Pacific League. Their opponent today is Burbank, 3-0 in league and the favorite to repeat as champions. The Falcons expect to compete for a league title, but stumbled against Burroughs last week in a 7-3 defeat.
“They hit the ball and we didn’t,” Coach John Pehar said of Burroughs, which is 3-0 in league. “They’re a good hitting team.”
“We know what we did wrong so next time we won’t make those same mistakes,” Cookson said.
They righted their wrongs on Tuesday. Cookson doubled on the first pitch she saw in the first inning, and Calley Ellingford (three-for-four) came around to score. Cookson’s sister Hailey picked up an RBI in that inning with a double to make it 4-0.
In the third, with Ellingford on again, Cookson homered to left-center field, the ball landing just under the scoreboard. In the fourth, the bases were loaded with no outs, and after fouling off a tough pitch, Cookson drove the next one over the centerfield fence for an 8-0 lead. Chloe Fairbrother and Rachel Abboud drove in the next two runs later on to complete the scoring.
Cookson, who has four home runs this season, said her approach is to watch her teammates bat in front of her, and if the pitcher is throwing first-pitch strikes, she’ll try and jump on it when it’s her turn. If not, she simply waits for her pitch.
It helps when runners can get on base in front of her. Cookson bats third, behind leadoff hitter Rachel Abboud, a freshman catcher who had two hits against Glendale, and Ellingford, a junior right fielder who is batting over .400.
“That’s the way we do the lineup,” Pehar said. “Not necessarily to hit the ball out. But to get hits, and Hannah is the most consistent hitter on the team. She’s the most consistent hitter in the league.”
Thayer got into trouble in the first inning. She gave up an infield single to leadoff hitter Sammy Fabian, and walked the next batter Sarah Brockway. But with one out and Brockway and Fabian on second and third, Thayer struck out Tiffany Bartamian and then got Lousararian to hit a comebacker, and no damage was done.
There were runners on the corners for Glendale in the fourth inning with two outs, but Thayer struck out the last batter.
Despite the Burroughs loss, the Falcons are still confident they can make a run at the top. Not only are they talented but several players have said that team chemistry is probably the best it’s been in years.
“I’m sisters with every single girl. It makes it a lot more fun and easier to play with everyone, because I can trust them,” Cookson said.
It not only helps Cookson to have trust, but also to have maybe the best swing in the game.
“Her swing is just smooth,” Pehar said. “She makes contact. She doesn’t have to hit it hard. When she gets the bat around everything’s a line drive, and if it’s not a line drive it’s on the ground hard. Rarely ever does she pop up.”
The Crescenta Valley baseball team has won two games in a row after a Pacific League-opening loss to Pasadena last week. The Falcons defeated Glendale on the road Tuesday afternoon 4-0, including a complete game by pitcher Jimmy Smiley, who was celebrating his birthday. Smiley, a junior, gave up just three hits and struck out 12 batters.
Crescenta Valley also beat Burroughs April 3 by a score of 4-1. The team’s record is 9-7 overall, 2-1 in league. The Falcons host Burbank (3-9-1, 0-3 in league) at Stengel Field on Friday at 7 p.m.