By Brandon HENSLEY
2013 Regular Season: 14-10-1
Playoffs: CIF Division III Wild-card, lost to La Salle 3-1.
Departing seniors: Brady Sanford, Jordan Green, Jessica Morena, Riane Garcia, Molly Burke.
But Look Who’s Coming Back: Pitcher Olivia Thayer, shortstop Hailey Cookson, center fielder Hannah Cookson.
The Crescenta Valley High Lady Falcons probably could have, should have been better in 2013. Coach Mark Samford lamented too many times about the lack of patience at the plate and the inability to hit with runners in scoring position (which cost them the last two games of the season).
The defense, while talented, let too many unearned runs in off of pitcher Olivia Thayer (a whopping 48, going by stats made available from the team).
Put those factors together and the Falcons dropped from 20 wins last year to a 14-11-1 record this year, including their playoff loss at La Salle on May 14.
But what’s done is done, so let’s look to the future, which doesn’t seem too bad at all. Only five seniors were on the team this year: Brady Sanford, Riane Garcia, Jordan Green, Molly Burke and Jessica Morena. Of those five, only right fielder Sanford and catcher Morena were regulars in the lineup.
That means CV will have an experienced team next year, led by center fielder Hannah Cookson, who will be a senior. Cookson had minor surgery on her knee in the offseason, and maybe that contributed to a drop off in home runs from 16 last season to seven this year.
Either way, she still led the team in that category, and hit .435 with 34 runs batted in.
Defensively, Cookson is the perfect person to anchor CV’s defense. She’s one of the fastest players on the team and runs down balls quickly. She said she doesn’t mind selling out to make catches, and proved it during a game against Burroughs with two diving catches in the late innings to preserve a win.
Her sister Hailey, the shortstop, isn’t too bad herself. Hailey is able to get to almost any ball and quickly gets it out of her glove to first base, so runners know they have to go hard down the line.
At the plate, Hailey led the team in batting average (.467) and had one home run, an inside the park hit at Glendale.
The pitching will be intact with Thayer and reliever Chloe Fairbrother, who mainly plays first base.
It’s the catcher’s spot that will be interesting to see. Morena will be gone, and CV got a taste of what life will be like without her earlier than expected when she was lost for the season in late April with an inflamed appendix.
Designated player Tiffany Briscoe filled in for Morena, and when Fairbrother pitched, Briscoe went to first and junior Grace Poole put on the mask. Briscoe, a junior next season, is always in the batting order because of her powerful bat, but it’ll be up to Samford to see who gets the most time at catcher next year between her and Poole.
As far as Pacific League opponents go, the Falcons will still have to contend with Burbank’s Caitlyn Brooks, who dominated this year as a sophomore. Brooks hit 11 home runs and as a pitcher recorded an ERA of less than 1.00 with 288 strikeouts.
CV was swept by Burbank, and also by Arcadia. The Falcons only recorded one run off of Arcadia’s Monica Baerg, and she’ll be back next year as well.
But the Arcadia games were tight, and could have gone either way. A little bit timelier hitting and the Falcons easily could have won second place in league outright, probably earning them a home playoff game.
That might turn around in 2014, because the Falcons will certainly have the talent and experience to go further than another wild-card loss.