First published in the May 19 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
The La Cañada High School varsity softball team battled for 10 innings but ultimately lost its CIF-SS Division IV quarterfinal game to visiting Moorpark, 3-0, last Thursday.
LCHS sophomore Elle Leckrone, who finished 2-for-3 with a double and a walk at the plate, pitched all 10 innings against the Musketeers, allowing three earned runs on nine hits and three walks with nine strikeouts against Moorpark (22-4 record), the tournament’s No. 1 seed.
Spartans’ senior captain Nicole Wong and junior teammate Kyra Davis each tallied a base hit and freshman Abigail Milton added a pair of walks.
“They exceeded expectations. With the number of seniors that graduated last year, including six starters from the team, people didn’t really expect much from us this year,” head coach Travis Lovejoy said. “It was great to see the team get to the quarterfinals and really take the overall No. 1 seed to 10 innings. We fell a little short but I am really proud of the way the girls came together as a team.”
The Spartans concluded their season as Rio Hondo League runners-up with an 8-4 record (21-7 overall).
Leckrone was undoubtedly LC’s MVP this season as a true two-way player. She led the team in several offensive categories, including batting average (.600), hits (42), runs batted in (36), doubles (11), home runs (eight), on-base percentage (.647) and slugging percentage (1.128), all culminating to a remarkable 1.776 OPS in 25 games. As a pitcher, she posted a 10-3 record and one no-hitter with team-bests in ERA (1.65), complete games (eight), innings pitched (101.2) and strikeouts (111) while limiting opposing batters to a .179 batting average, not including the postseason.
“She expects more out of herself, not that I or her teammates could ask for any more of her. She is a special player both at the plate and on the mound,” Travis Lovejoy said. “She is an outlier and, in many ways, drives our team. I think we are going to see her continue to improve. It’s hard to imagine that you can improve on those numbers but I think she is looking forward to trying.”
Including Leckrone, the Spartans had seven hitters produce .300 batting averages or better, helping push the team average to an impressive .342 mark.
Wong had an excellent season, slashing .431/.517/.583 with a 1.100 OPS as LC’s primary leadoff hitter. The lefty finished with 26 runs scored, 11 RBIs, five doubles and led the team in triples (three) while also playing incredible defense in centerfield.
“Nicole is the heart and soul of our team; she did such a good job setting the table for our offense all season long,” Travis Lovejoy said. “She played a great centerfield and part of the reason she didn’t pitch as much as we initially thought she might was just how good a defense she plays. We’d be sacrificing defense to put her on the mound.”
Davis produced a terrific stat line as well over the course of 24 regular-season games, posting a .411 batting average with 27 runs, 17 RBIs and six doubles.
“Kyra is an outstanding athlete. She hits, she runs and she’s a five-tool player. I could plug her into just about any position on the field and she will excel at that position,” her coach said. “I think one of the most exciting things about Kyra is the fact that she is an incredible bunter. She’s a great hitter, but she’s also very willing to lay down a bunt if that’s what the team needs, and more often than not, when she bunts, she gets the base hit.”
Senior captain Amy Lyman finished her final season with a .329 batting average while adding 14 runs scored and 21 RBIs. She was a four-year varsity player and Travis Lovejoy credited her for having a smooth glove at shortstop. She found her groove at the plate in the postseason, moving up to the four-hole and making pitchers pay when they began intentionally walking Leckrone.
Milton had a fine season in her first full year at the high school level, especially considering the 15-year-old freshman was going up against 18-year-old senior pitching at the varsity level. Milton tallied a .319 batting average with five home runs, 19 runs scored and 23 RBIs.
“I think her future is very bright; I can’t even put a limit on what she can do. She is super athletic, has so much talent and is one of the fastest girls I’ve ever seen,” Travis Lovejoy said. “She had some big moments for us, like a walk-off against Monrovia.”
As LC’s primary catcher, sophomore Ashley Lovejoy was a sturdy wall behind the plate while also contributing with the bat. She batted .316 with a .426 on-base percentage, impressive for a second-year catcher while contributing 12 runs and 11 RBIs.
“She had a number of clutch hits for us this year and what I like about her is her consistency at the plate,” Travis Lovejoy said. “I’m most impressed with Ashley’s catching. She’s really a wall back there and she does a good job receiving pitches and making them look good to the umpires.”
Travis Lovejoy commended senior Kylie Sever for her leadership throughout the year, helping mentor the underclassmen. She registered eight hits with four of those going for extra bases, including three doubles and a home run, while adding seven runs and eight RBIs.