A quick look at how both first innings played out reveals why the La Cañada High softball team's past two CIF Southern Section Division V championship games were so different.
In 2011, the Spartans loaded the bases with one out but couldn't push a run across after Beaumont pitcher Alyssa Fuimaono struck out two straight pitchers.
Catherine Horner put La Cañada in position for an early lead again this year in a rematch with the Cougars when she led the game off with a single. The senior catcher moved to second on a Katy Lee sacrifice bunt, to third when Annie Monroe grounded out to the right side and scored on a Kelsey Drange single.
"For us to get us on the board and get going early in that game was absolutely huge," said La Cañada Coach KC Mathews of the Spartans 7-3 win over Beamount June 3 after they won, 1-0, in 2011. "The biggest difference this year from last year was we got that run across in the first inning. Last year I think we gave Beaumont some momentum when we didn't score in the first. This year it was team execution and it was as textbook as it can get. You had four girls in a row doing their job, and getting on the board early was tremendous for us."