Taylor Hill’s home run isn’t enough as errors in fifth help Lancers end CV’s season.
By Brandon HENSLEY
If it means anything to the Crescenta Valley High softball team, it would have been a long road ahead even it won Tuesday’s road playoff game against La Salle, and not just figuratively.
The Falcons would have had to make a 160-mile bus ride up to Santa Maria for a game today had they pulled out a seventh inning rally over the Lancers. As it is, players can instead think about the end of the school year and look forward to putting in work during the summer after their 3-1 loss took care of all the potential travel worries.
Errors in the bottom of the fifth inning cost the Falcons the game. Pitcher Olivia Thayer allowed a walk and three hits in the frame, but it was one play CV would like to take back.
Tied at 1-1, La Salle had runners on second and third with one out. Thayer’s pitch to Katie Smither got by catcher Grace Poole, allowing Paula Damas to score.
But Poole’s flip back to Thayer covering home was wild and Caroline Knop, who started the play at second, also scored, making it 3-1 La Salle.
Knop originally started the scoring in the frame with an RBI that brought home Beverlee Valerio.
“One little let down, and the game gets away from us. What did that take, 30 seconds?” said Falcon Coach Mark Samford.
Crescenta Valley (14-11-1) had its chances on the base paths all game, including in the second inning when it had runners on second and third with one out, but Poole and Brady Sanford made consecutive outs.
In the seventh, the Falcons rallied against pitcher Damas when Poole walked and with one out sophomore shortstop Hailey Cookson singled (she had three hits, all of them opposite field to right). But Adela Alatraca struck out and Hannah Cookson grounded out to end the game – and season.
“I think that’s the story of a lot of our losses,” said Samford. “One timely hit away.”
Falcons’ third baseman Taylor Hill led off the top of the fourth inning with a home run to left-center field, her second of the season. That gave her team a precious 1-0 lead, similar to the May 9 regular season finale against Arcadia. In that one, centerfielder Hannah Cookson hit a home run to give CV a 1-0 lead in the third, but Arcadia scored three runs a little later to win 3-1. Flash forward five days later, and it was déjà vu.
CV played this one without designated hitter and backup catcher Tiffany Briscoe, who was battling a fever at home. Without regular catcher Jessica Morena, who missed the last several weeks with appendix problems, the responsibility all fell to Poole.
“She did a great job. Her at-bats have improved dramatically,” said Samford of Poole. “That’s why I tell them if you come every day and play hard you never know what’s going to happen.”
This is CV’s third year of losing its first playoff game. The Falcons will not graduate many seniors (Sanford, Morena, Jordan Green, Riane Garcia and Molly Burke) so the prospects of advancing next year certainly aren’t bleak.
Thayer, Hill, Briscoe, both Cookson sisters and first baseman Chloe Fairbrother all played vital roles this season and will be back in 2014. The only problem is so will dominating pitcher Caitlyn Brooks, who plays for Pacific League champion Burbank.
“Burbank is still going to have Caitlyn. But you can’t forfeit already,” said Samford. “We’re going to show up and play with people that have a lot of experience.”
Chloe Fairbrother recently sat down with Brandon Hensley to talk about the 2013 season, as well as her personality on and off the field. To see the video, visit the sports and video sections at cvweekly.com.
All photos for this story are from the May 9 game vs. Arcadia at Crescenta Valley High School.