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Alex Howard, Crescenta Valley-Foothill bound for Western Regional Tournament in Arizona

Softball: Walk-off hit by Alex Howard propels Junior All-Stars to Division III title.

July 26, 2012|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
  • Calley Ellingford, second from right, gives Alex Howard a high five after the Crescenta Valley-Foothill All-Star Junior softball team beat Westchester Del Rey at Kent D. Face Field in Westchester on Thursday.
Calley Ellingford, second from right, gives Alex Howard… (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

WESTCHESTER — For the past two years, Will Thayer has had his Crescenta Valley All-Stars softball teams come painfully close to a division championship, only to come up short each time.

Last season, the Foothill Major All-Stars also came up short in their Southern California State Championships tournament bid to a familiar Westchester Del Rey squad.

While Thursday's Southern California Division III championship game at Kent D. Mace Field couldn't have gotten any closer, a division celebration was finally to be had for the consolidated Crescenta Valley-Foothill Junior All-Stars squad.

Alex Howard delivered the 5-4 win over tournament host Westchester with a walk-off single that scored Sammy Fabian, who led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a double.

"I just hit it and ran," said Howard, who was 0 for three in the game until her final hit. "It is unbelievable, I have never won a game this big before."

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CVFH (7-0) was able to exact revenge on both teams that doomed its division title hopes the past two years with tournament victories over Westchester, which knocked off the Foothill Major squad last year, and Victorville, which defeated a Thayer-coached Crescenta Valley Junior squad in the title round two years ago and fell to CVFH, 9-0, Tuesday.

The victory sends CVFH to the Western Regional Tournament in Arizona where it will open against Garden City Little League of Missoula, Mont. on Aug. 2.

It was also the closest game CVFH has had not only in the tournament, but in the postseason, as it won its first three division games 10-0, 10-2, 9-0. CVFH's closest call before Thursday came in the Section 2 championship game when it defeated Canyon Country-Mission Hills, 13-9.

"I use all my experience to be in moments like this," Thayer said. "For my blood pressure, 10-0 is better, but the adrenaline is flowing and I probably won't go to sleep until God knows when. We've been at this for three years and been so close the other two times, but here it is."

Howard's hit rescued CVFH, which committed four errors in the game and a handful of other defensive gaffes, from another heartbreaking loss and if-necessary championship game with Westchester Friday.

CVFH took a two-run lead, 4-2, into the top of the seventh, but Westchester quickly made things interesting when Dominique Campos (two for four) hit a lead-off double over the center fielder and Andrea Guzman (three for three) blooped a single to right field to put runners at first and third.

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