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Crescenta Valley softball leads local contingent looking to move up

Falcons are only local team coming off a playoff berth, but all five are looking for improvement.

February 28, 2013|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
  • ARCHIVE PHOTO: Crescenta Valley High's Hannah Cookson, left, and Whitney Craig will be key players for the Falcons in 2013.
ARCHIVE PHOTO: Crescenta Valley High's Hannah… (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

Judging by the lofty standards and tradition of the Crescenta Valley High softball team, last season was a bit of a letdown for the Falcons.

In comparison to the rest of the local squads, though, the Falcons had far and away the largest success due to the simple fact that they qualified for the playoffs while the likes of Glendale, Hoover, Flintridge Prep and Holy Family were all on the outside of the postseason looking in.

“I think we have the potential to be every bit as good as we were last year, or even better,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Mark Samford, who was promoted from interim coach after he took over the program last season in the aftermath of the tragic passing of Dan Berry, the longtime Falcons coach and architect of the program. “I think the question is gonna be motivation and just getting it done on the field. I think focus is gonna be the issue.”

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Crescenta Valley went 11-3 in the Pacific League a year ago, tying for second and getting bounced in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs.

In all, the Falcons boast seven returning starters, led by junior center fielder Hannah Cookson, an All-Area first-team selection and player-of-the-year candidate. She’ll hit third with her sister, Hailey, a sophomore shortstop, hitting in front of her. Other returners include Whitney Craig (junior outfielder), Brady Sanford (senior outfielder), Taylor Hill (junior third baseman) and junior pitchers Olivia Thayer and Chloe Fairbrother.

The Falcons had the talent to challenge for the league crown last season with wins over Burbank and Burroughs, but untimely a loss to Glendale loomed large.

Many are predicting Burroughs, the reigning champion, and Burbank to be the favorites, but Samford believes if his team reaches its potential it will be right in the hunt.

“Much like last year, I’d like to think by the end of the year, we’ll have some say in what’s going on,” said Samford, whose team has opened the season with a disappointing 0-3 start and will look for its first win on Saturday against Nordhoff in the Lincoln Tournament.

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