A Crusader on a mission for a title

With excellent skills at the plate and with the glove, La Crescenta resident Maddi Velasquez is looking to bring a CIF crown back to Village Christian

May 31, 2010|By Charles Rich
  • La Crescenta resident Maddi Velasquez and Village Christian are in the CIF softball semifinals.
La Crescenta resident Maddi Velasquez and Village Christian… (Raul Roa/News-Press )

Once the lengthy practice in the late-afternoon concluded and the start of the Memorial Day three-day weekend began, Maddi Velasquez went straight to the batting cage adjacent to the Village Christian High softball field.

For about an extra 30 minutes, Velasquez took her share of swings determined to further show her testament to being a dedicated player. With each pitch tossed underhand by one of the assistant coaches, Velasquez, a La Crescenta resident, hammered the balls off the netting.

It's the work ethic displayed by Velasquez that's made her one of the elite players on the fourth-seeded Crusaders, who will face top-seeded Whittier Christian in a CIF Southern Section Division V semifinal road game at 3:15 p.m. today. The other semifinal matchup will pit second-seeded La Cañada against host South Hills.

"It's her mind set," said sixth-year Village Christian Coach Mike Delaney, whose team is seeking its first CIF championship since 2003 and first appearance in a title contest since 2004. "She's very driven because she wants to succeed.


"She wants to perform to the best of her capabilities."

Velasquez, a junior center fielder, and the Crusaders (24-5) have returned to the semifinals for the second season in a row. With strong pitching from standout Emily Seidel (21-4) and clutch hitting and defense from a collection of intelligent players, things have gone better than expected for Village Christian.

Velasquez, a three-year varsity player, has provided the Crusaders with a little bit of everything to help make them one of the top teams in the region. Entering today's contest, Velasquez is batting .391 (36 for 92) with 11 doubles and 17 runs batted in.

"We have a team that's been playing together for a long time," said Velasquez, who has hit safely in all four Village Christian postseason games while batting third. "We feel like we are on an upward scale right now and we still haven't peaked.

"I feel like we are in a good place with our pitching, offense and defense."

Behind Seidel, a junior, the Crusaders have yielded just one run in the postseason. The Crusaders, who finished 5-3 to finish third in the competitive Olympic League behind Whittier Christian and Cerritos Valley Christian, opened with a wild-card win against Godinez. The Crusaders then registered victories against Duarte, Beaumont and San Dimas.

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