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O'Leary achieves perfection in playoffs

Softball: La Cañada wins its first-round playoff game against Ramona Convent, 9-0, behind a perfect outing from its ace in the circle.

May 26, 2011|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
(Tim Berger Staff…)

For the second week in a row, La Cañada High pitcher Lauren O'Leary was perfect down to her final strike of a game.

After failing in her bid to throw a perfect game more than a week earlier, the senior had another chance at perfection May 19 in a first-round CIF Southern Section Division V playoff game against Ramona Convent at home.

This time O'Leary didn't fall short.

O'Leary fell behind to her final batter of the day, Ramona's Ellie Manriquez, 2-0. But she came back with two straight strikes before striking the batter out on a high 2-2 fastball to end the game and secure a 9-0 victory for the Spartans.

Nine days earlier, O'Leary lost a perfect game against South Pasadena after committing a throwing error on the final out of the game.

"I wasn't thinking about [the perfect game] because I did that against South Pasadena and that didn't turn out well," said O'Leary, whose first perfect game this season came on her father's birthday.

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La Cañada Coach KC Matthews feels like he's run out of things to say about his ace's dominance this season.

"I don't know what else I can say about Lauren O'Leary and the job she's done for the past four years," Matthew said. "She's been tremendous and earned every bit of it. I'm really happy for her."

In the first few innings against Ramona, O'Leary uncharacteristically fell behind batters, not getting the usual first strike right off the bat. Things started flowing for her in the circle when her team gave her some support, scoring three runs in the second inning.

"It felt good to start out strong in the playoffs," O'Leary said. "We all got more comfortable out there as the game went on and we started scoring."

La Cañada first baseman Kelsey Drange felt the pressure of O'Leary's perfect game, dealing with several hard-hit grounders that turned into fast-paced plays at first — including one in the top of the seventh.

"I was nervous a little bit dealing when the ball was hit my way," Drange said. "[O'Leary] works so hard every single day and its good for her to get some respect for it."

When Drange wasn't getting it done with her glove, she was driving in runs with the bat, just as she has all year. She went two for three, driving in a game-high three runs.

It was a team effort though, as 10 Spartans logged hits and five contributed RBI's.

"I've been saying it all year: Pick a game, and I'll show you a different girl who came up big and got a clutch hit," said Matthews, praising the depth he has on offense.

Collectively, La Cañada had 16 hits in the game, including two from Lauren Cox, who hadn't played since April 23 against Hart in the Thousand Oaks Tournament. Cox, a pitcher, has been sidelined with a leg injury.

"Lauren's been working hard and she's still not quite ready to get back in the circle," said Matthews, who didn't rule out putting her in the circle later in the playoffs. "I'm never going to say never, but we'll see how her leg is feeling and evaluate it down the line."

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