By Brandon HENSLEY
Today on the softball field of Crescenta Valley High School, one thing will happen for sure: the Lady Falcons will recognize their seniors at home plate in the last regular season home game they’ll ever play.
One other thing might also happen: they could secure second place in the Pacific League, thereby increasing the chances of hosting a playoff game next week.
To do that, though, CV will need to beat the Arcadia Apaches, and that won’t be easy. Arcadia shut down the Falcons last month in a 4-0 win at the Apaches’ field.
Burbank has already locked up a league title, but CV and Burroughs are tied with identical 10-3 records.
“I don’t think we have to play spectacular to win. If they simply complete the fundamentals, they’ll be fine,” said CV Coach Mark Samford about today’s game, which is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. “They have some good hitters who are going to put the ball in play, and we have to take care of our [defense].”
Samford feels that way because his team is playing up to its capabilities as the season comes to a close. The Falcons, who are 14-9-1 overall, were handled by Burbank this year – the combined score of the games was 19-3 – but showed resilience after those losses.
They swept the season series from the Burroughs Indians last week and have since taken care of business against Pasadena (a 16-0 win last Friday) and Glendale (12-0 win on Wednesday).
“I think we’re just kind of maturing into softball players, not just athletes,” said Samford.
CV scored 11 runs in the second inning on Wednesday, and then in the third Tiffany Briscoe blasted a home run to dead centerfield for the last run of the game, which was called after five innings due to the mercy rule.
It was a much easier victory than the last time they played the Nitros, a 7-4 victory in windy conditions at GHS.
Samford said starting pitcher Oliva Thayer was excellent in this outing, and that she kept herself ahead of hitters in the count, something he’d been preaching to her all year.
He also had kind words for the patience of his hitters, which has not always been the case.
“Our hitters are embracing being patient at the plate,” he said. “I think it’s making a huge difference. We’re talking about, ‘It’s okay to take a strike, maybe two.’”
If CV loses today, that makes things more interesting. It would mean the Falcons and Apaches would have four losses in league, and if Burroughs somehow beats Burbank today, the Indians get second. If not, they’ll have four losses as well, and that means the CIF will have some sorting out to do before announcing playoff seedings and matchups this weekend.
Even if the Falcons beat Arcadia, it won’t automatically mean a home playoff game, just a higher seed for the Division III brackets.
“A home game is not a done deal, I don’t think … I don’t know the mysteries the CIF holds,” said Samford.