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Softball preview: La Cañada High softball looks to reclaim league, postseason standing

Spartans hoping to rebound from disappointing season, while Rebels, Tologs also look for improvement.

March 01, 2014|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
  • La Cañada High catcher Olivia Lam is one of a few key returners for the Spartans, who are looking to recapture a Rio Hondo League championship. (Tim Berger/File Photo)
La Cañada High catcher Olivia Lam is one of a few…

While prognostications of a third consecutive CIF Southern Section championship were not exactly at the forefront leading into last season, missing out on the postseason all together was, indeed, a disappointment for the La Cañada High softball team.

Having returned seven starters from a team that had been a part of a Spartans squad which won its second straight CIF Southern Section Division V championship in 2012, the 2013 Spartans struggled in the circle, found themselves in a dogfight for Rio Hondo League standing and, ultimately, missed out on the postseason just as did neighboring Flintridge Prep and Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy.

“Frustrating? Absolutely. Disappointing? No doubt about it,” said Spartans Coach KC Mathews about the 2013 season.

Nonetheless, much like last season, La Cañada returns a bevy of talent, led by the likes of senior shortstop Olivia Leyva, junior catcher Olivia Lam, senior second baseman Katy Lee, senior outfielder Brenna Gay and senior pitcher Maddy MacKenzie.

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“I think this team is very capable of competing for a league championship,” said Mathews, whose team had its streak of four straight Rio Hondo League titles snapped last season and came up short of the Division IV playoffs after winning consecutive Division V titles. “And once you get in the playoffs, it’s anybody’s game.

“That’s our goal is to compete for a league championship and then make a run in the playoffs.”

Injuries and a subsequent lack of consistency in the lineup were obstacles that Mathews cites as hindrances to last season and pitfalls that must be avoided this year. However, things haven’t started off in the right direction as returning starter Alyssa Stolmack, a senior infielder/pitcher, is likely out for the season with an injury and Leyva, an All-Area and All-CIF pick a year ago, is still playing a vital role in the girls’ soccer team’s quest for a CIF championship.

Leyva hit .405 with team-highs of 30 runs batted in, 28 runs, seven doubles and six home runs and will be looked on as an offensive centerpiece yet again.

“We’re gonna need big things from her,” Mathews said.

Mathews also expects lofty contributions from sophomore third baseman Sammy Jedrey, sophomore outfielder Megan Reilly, junior pitcher Kellyn O’Leary and sophomore pitcher Hanna Heileson.

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