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Sights set higher for locals

Coming off all-around down year, area programs have goals of league titles and playoff appearances for new season.

March 04, 2011|By Grant Gordon,

GLENDALE — With nary a league title or a playoff win among local softball teams a season ago, the 2011 season that opens today will be one in which improvement is sought across the board.

Crescenta Valley High, the area's most storied program, finished just a game away from claiming the Pacific League title despite going through what many deemed a rebuilding year, while Flintridge Prep and Holy Family worked their way into the postseason only to fall in the wild-card round.

Meanwhile, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, Hoover and Glendale are all looking to scrap their way into postseason slots, as well.

"You're always hopeful at the start of the season," said Berry, whose Falcons are led by the return of reigning All-Area Player of the Year Erin Ashby.


While Ashby and Co. must deal with the considerable loss of four-year standout Alyssa Sovereign to graduation, Crescenta Valley also offers an abundance of returners from last season's 18-9 squad that lost a nailbiter to Colton in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs.

All-Area picks Sydney House (first base), Allison Lacey (second base) and Cece Martinez (center field) will return along with Ashby to provide a solid and experienced core.

"Those type of athletes don't come around that often," Berry said. "The leadership they provide, also, that's a good thing to have."

Outfielder Delaney Gay and catcher Kelly Bako also return with starting experience, bolstered by the addition of shortstop Brielle Walker, who missed all of last year with a broken hand, and freshman outfielder Hannah Cookson, who's projected to start in left.

Berry is hoping to be able to spell Ashby in the pitching circle if he can, as the Stanford-bound talent will also be vital once again leading off a potent lineup that he sees as his team's strength.

"[Ashby's] work ethic, it's just unbelievable," Berry said. "She's made herself into a tremendous player."

The Falcons are seen by many as a contender to return to the top of the Pacific League, in which they claimed three straight titles before finishing a game back of Burroughs last season. The Indians, according to most of the league's coaches, are the preeminent favorite

Prep also boasts a healthy returning class, with Coach Julie Jaime having nine players with starting experience back on the diamond looking to contend for a Prep League title.

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