SOFTBALL: No style points, but Spartans win again

After winning just one game in league a year ago, La Canada off to a perfect 3-0 start

By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
SOUTH PASADENA There is something different about the La Caada High School softball team.
The Spartans seem to have fun, in the field or in the dugout. They play, for the most part, solid defense. And then theres the big thing: They win.
La Caada took a firm hold on first place in the Rio Hondo League with a 3-1 victory over host South Pasadena on Wednesday. The Spartans, who won one league game last season, are 3-0 in league play.
This team, we have a lot more team bonding, said Amanda Ulf, whose two-run double gave the Spartans the lead in the sixth inning. We have a lot of fun together. Everyone works well together. Everyone is friends.
I definitely did not think wed be 3-0, especially since we have a new coach every year. But (coach K.C.) Matthews, all the way!
The Spartans remained undefeated in league play with some timely defensive plays and by taking advantage of their best scoring opportunity.
Theyve come together and they believe in each other[BODY], Matthews said[/BODY]. We all believe in each other. We dont look pretty. Were not a pretty team, but were the only one that is 3-0. Three down and nine to go. Were checking them off the list.
With South Pasadena leading, 1-0, La Caadas Kylie Mulligan led off the sixth when she was hit in the foot on a Nichole Parada pitch. Parada then got a strikeout, but Lucy Filippone drew a walk, in which South Pasadena coach Mike Williams was thrown out of the game for questioning the strike zone.
Anna Applebaum loaded the bases when a grounder went underneath third baseman Brittany ODell. Ulf then sent a 1-2 changeup just over the outstretched mitt of center fielder Mackenzie Johnson to score two runs. Ulf scored on Abby Ulfs groundout.
I actually was expecting (the changeup) because she pitched two outside and she hadnt thrown it in like four batters, Amanda Ulf said. She has a really good changeup. We did a lot of changeup drills (on Tuesday) and that helped a lot.
It seemed like only a matter of time before Williams might be tossed. He sought a catchers interference call earlier and then complained when Parada was thrown out at the plate in the fifth inning, which would have given the Tigers, now 2-2 in league, a 2-0 lead. He said it was the first time he had been ejected in 12 years of coaching at South Pasadena.
I let them down by getting tossed, he said. It truly doesnt matter. My catcher was asking, Where? and he takes offense to that. Im going to protect my girls. But the bottom line is we lost. He didnt lose the game, we did.
The Spartans had runners on first and second bases in the third inning and Abby Ulf reached third with two outs in the fifth.
South Pasadena scored its lone run in the second. Amanda Castro led off with an infield single despite a great play by shortstop Filippone. She was sacrificed to second base, took third on a Lauren OLeary wild pitch and scored on Kelsey Hertels bloop single into center field.
With two outs in the fifth, Parada singled and stole second base. Katrina Skogsberg hit a grounder at Filippone and, with Parada charging off the bag, Filippone failed to judge the ball and it skipped off her glove into center field. But it careened right to Mulligan, whose throw to catcher Anna Edwards was on the mark and Parada was called out.
We made a couple of errors that obviously we shouldnt make, Matthews said. Its like they let them come off the back of their head, but it doesnt bother them.
The Tigers threatened again in the seventh. ODell and Laura Parada singled and leadoff hitter Nichole Parada then hit a sharp, low-flying line drive down the first-base line that would have appeared to put her on second base with a double. But first baseman Devon Zerebko made a diving catch and beat Laura Parada back to the bag to end the game.

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