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Spartans surge into CIF finals

Softball: O'Leary bounces back in a 6-2 semifinal victory over South El Monte.

June 02, 2011|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

Lauren O'Leary, the ace pitcher of La Cañada High's softball team, went straight to the bullpen after giving up two runs in the third inning in a CIF Southern Section Division V semifinal game against South El Monte.

The hurler wanted to refine her delivery in hopes of not having another challenging inning.

"We were just trying to get back in sync and work out all the kinks," O'Leary said.

Everything started flowing for O'Leary from that point on at her home field. She retired the side in order in the top of the fourth and only allowed just three base runners the rest of the game, guiding the Spartans to a, 6-2, victory Tuesday.

The win propelled the Spartans into the CIF Southern Section Division V championship game.

No. 1 La Cañada (25-3) will get a chance to claim the division title at 5:15 p.m. Friday in a game against No. 2 Beaumont at Deanna Manning Stadium in Irvine.

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Beaumont (25-4) is the Mountain Pass League champion, while the Spartans captured a title in the Rio Hondo League.

"These girls have worked so hard to get to this point," said La Cañada Coach KC Mathews. "I'm just so happy for them; they've done a tremendous job all year."

The Spartans scored in the first inning after Anna Edwards and Kelsey Drange were walked to start the inning. Catherine Horner moved Edwards to third with a deep fly ball to right field and Megan Siepler brought Edwards home with a run-scoring single, giving La Cañada a 1-0 lead.

O'Leary started out strong and retired the first six batters she faced through the first two innings. However, trouble came in the third when South El Monte's (16-11) Julissa Castellanos was hit by a pitch and Andrea Barcenas walked to start the inning. O'Leary got the first out of the inning on a grounder, before Valerie Velasquez hit a hard shot on the ground to Kelsey Drange at first. Drange threw home trying to get Castellanos at the plate, but the runner slid just under the tag to put her team on the board, 3-1.

Velasquez was thrown out on a steal attempt for the second out of the inning. It proved to be big because Angie Aguinaga doubled to bring Barcenas in to score, cutting the Spartans' lead to 3-2. O'Leary allowed one more base runner in the inning, via a walk, before getting a strikeout to end the inning.

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