Exceptional Highs, Surprising Lows as Softball Moves On
By Timithie NORMAN
For the Crescenta Valley High softball team, the 2012 season was one filled with emotion.
It was the first season since Dan Berry, the Falcon coach of nearly 30 seasons, passed away. The first season in four years without standout Erin Ashby, now playing at Stanford University, on the roster. And yet the team finished with an 11-3 Pacific League record in a season that saw just as many highs as lows.
“Obviously it started off under rugged circumstances with Dan passing,” said Coach Mark Samford. “I think the program, because of the stability that Dan gave it, represented itself really well on and off the field.”
After an early loss to league-leader Burroughs High (13-1), Crescenta Valley came back to beat the team on the road 7-4 – handing the Pacific League champ its only loss for the season – and gained the opportunity to share a piece of the league title. But then came a late-season loss to Glendale (6-7), who the Falcons had previously beat 11-0. The Falcons were out of the running in league play and though they made it to CIF Division III playoffs in a wild card round, they lost to Notre Dame to end their season 20-7 overall.
“The high point is definitely going to be beating Burbank and Burroughs in the same week, both ranked in top 10 in our division,” Samford said. “The biggest challenge was just the cloud cast over everything by Coach Berry’s passing. Anyone who came in and worked with the team was constantly playing catch-up.”
Good news for the team came Tuesday, however, when it was officially announced that Head Coach Samford and assistant coach and CV grad Ashleigh Viers-Gordillo would be back to coach the 2013 season. The pitching staff will also return, providing some consistency for the players for the next season.
“We will be at it again and hopefully we will have a good year in the field,” Samford said. “We will learn from this year, and continue with the nuts and bolts.”
Despite a young roster, a handful of underclassmen stepped up to the plate to lead Crescenta Valley. Sophomore slugger Hannah Cookson, a league-leader at bat, contributed 16 home runs with 53 RBIs for the season while teammate freshman Tiffany Briscoe and senior Allison Lacey had 18 and 15 RBIs, respectively.
Sophomore pitcher Olivia Thayer had a 1.82 earned run average with 52 strikeouts in 14 games.
“We still have a young team but we’ll have another year of experience,” Samford said. “With Olivia and Chloe [Fairbrother] we have a lot of untapped potential.”
Samford says he will look to Cookson, her sister shortstop Hailey Cookson, first baseman and catcher Jessica Morena and infielder Brady Sanford as team leaders next year.
“Jessica especially will be a real stable influence for the younger girls,” Samford said.
With so many competitive players returning, the Falcons seem poised to build on the success of the past season. Samford, as always, doesn’t want to look too far into the future.
“We have a summer program organized,” he said. “We just need to maintain the high level and get players to improve, not get caught looking somewhere else. Anything can happen.”