First published in the June 23 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
The La Cañada Baseball Softball Association’s 12-and-under Spartan softball team defeated Thousand Oaks to claim the Western C District championship on Sunday.
After reaching the championship game of the Ventura Breeze Tournament the prior weekend and suffering a tough one-run loss, the Spartans were eager to write a better ending to their story at the state-qualifying district tourney.
The squad began its quest on Saturday with a 10-5 victory over Thousand Oaks followed by an 11-5 win over Northridge.
La Cañada wasn’t content with a ticket to the state tournament and set its sights on a district title and went on to open Sunday play with a 14-2 win over Newbury Park to advance to the championship against Thousand Oaks.
The Spartans’ opponent jumped out to an early lead by scoring four runs in the opening frame. LC clawed its way back with key hits from Alexandra Kim, Riley Labrecque, Hannah Clark, Siena Matthews and Sapna Pradhan. La Cañada’s pitching ace in the circle, Natalie Stogel, bounced back from a tough first inning with five strikeouts, adding to her season total of 45, and a couple of strong defensive plays helped keep her team in the game.
Trailing 6-4 entering the bottom of the fifth inning, the Spartan bats went from hot to scorching. After Kim drew a walk to start the inning, Chloe Dugan belted a triple to cut the lead to one. Labrecque kept the rally going with a line drive single to drive in the tying run. Allizon Sullivan followed with a two-strike double, and Pradhan then delivered a single to give the Spartans their first lead of the game at 8-6.
The Spartan bats weren’t done yet and Jayne Bender led the Spartans’ final charge as she recorded the first of five consecutive hits. The streak extended LC’s lead to six runs, and Sullivan put the nail in the coffin by smashing a single — her second hit of the inning — driving in two more to invoke the run-ahead rule and complete the 20-hit, 14-6 victory.
The district championship was the first from an LCBSA softball team in five years, and the LCBSA 12U Spartans will advance to the Southern California C State tournament along with the 12U Cardinal team and 14U squads. The competition will take place in Lancaster over the July 4 weekend.