Through chronic injury, the Falcons’ senior is proving she’s one of Pacific League’s best.
By Brandon HENSLEY
Her career as a softball player is coming to an end, but Taylor Hill sure is making the most out of her time left. Crescenta Valley High School’s senior third baseman is putting up big numbers at the plate this season, and she shined again on Tuesday in the Falcons’ 14-0 five-inning mercy win over the Pasadena Lady Bulldogs.
With the bases loaded and no outs in the first inning, Hill connected off pitcher Alicia Yantorn, sending the ball over the centerfield fence for a grand slam. It was the first grand slam in Hill’s career.
“It’s awesome,” said Hill, who finished the game two-for-four with five runs batted in. “I knew the minute I hit it, so I was pretty happy.”
The Falcons (12-6, 5-2 in the Pacific League) made it a six-run first inning when Chloe Fairbrother tripled in two more runs. Fairbrother also collected five RBIs on the day, including a two-run double in the fourth inning.
Crescenta Valley pitcher Olivia Thayer had a short day, throwing three scoreless innings before handing the ball over to Fairbrother, who pitched the last two. Thayer, though, slugged a home run to left field before she exited in the third inning.
Crescenta Valley is in third place in the Pacific League, behind 7-0 Burbank and 6-1 Burroughs. The Falcons host Arcadia (4-3) on Friday at 3:30 p.m.
After a 3-0 loss to Burbank on April 10, the Falcons have won five straight games, including a forfeit win over Muir, which didn’t have enough players that day (both teams played for fun anyway).
In those five games, Thayer and Fairbrother have not allowed a run, and Thayer pitched a complete game shutout against Thousand Oaks over Easter weekend, a 1-0 tournament victory.
Offensively, when they’re not facing Burbank’s star pitcher Caitlyn Brooks, the Falcons are showing off with their bats as well, and Hill is helping lead the charge.
She slammed three home runs in a win against Taft last weekend, and in total she now has seven home runs, which ties her with senior centerfielder Hannah Cookson. She’s also batting over .500 and leads the team in RBIs with 35.
As a team, CV has hit 22 home runs already, compared to 16 in total last year.
Hill batted .380 with three home runs total her junior year. She said she worked hard with assistant coach Kali Cancelosi on improving her hitting this year, working on keeping her hands and weight back and trying to not get too out in front of pitches. Her approach at the plate is to wait for her pitch and try to hit it on the ground or hit a line drive.
Sometimes, though, they fly out of the park.
“If you swing right and do everything right, sometimes it goes out, and that’s always awesome,” said Hill, whose homer in last year’s playoff loss to La Salle was the team’s only run. She’s anxious to try and make things right next month in the playoffs.
“I always think about that because we should have won,” she said. “We could have gone farther, and we gave it up.”
Hill is bound for Cal State Northridge in the fall, but she won’t be playing softball for the Lady Matadors. When she was in seventh grade, she tore up her right knee in a basketball game. Since that time, she’s had three operations and contracted a staph infection.
She said she further damaged it this year with all of the conditioning she did in the offseason. In practices now, Coach John Pehar will give her a break – not that she necessarily wants that.
“I feel bad. I’m part of the team and I want to be able to do everything I can, but if I start running, I can’t,” she said.
She’ll undergo another surgery this summer to clean up the meniscus and repair ligaments, but her days crushing softballs will have then been over.
“It’s barely holding up this season,” she said of her knee.
Baseball Tied for First
The Falcons’ baseball team is rolling along in the Pacific League. The boys defeated Hoover High School 6-0 before traveling to Pasadena for a 6-2 win on Tuesday. It was the Falcons’ sixth straight win and it avenged their only defeat in league so far, a 3-0 loss to Pasadena on April 1.
The Falcons’ pitching staff is allowing just one run per league contest.
Crescenta Valley, which has won at least a share of two straight league titles, is positioned to win a third straight if it can win out. Currently, the team is tied with Pasadena and Arcadia for first place, and Arcadia hosts CV on Friday at