All-Area Softball: La Canada’s Lauren Cox and Monrovia’s Dave Guzman take top honors

All-Area Story: La Canada’s Lauren Cox leads her team to second title to earn player of the year honors while Monrovia’s Dave Guzman named coach of the year.

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Player of the Year: Lauren Cox, La Canada, Senior
Coach of the Year: Dave Guzman, Monrovia
Pitcher: Michelle Floyd, San Marino, Junior
Pitcher: Adrienne Guerra, Monrovia, Sophomore
Catcher: Catherine Horner, La Canada, Senior
Infielder: Kelsey Drange, La Canada, Junior
Infielder: Annie Monroe, La Canada, Junior
Infielder: Alexis Watanabe, San Marino, Senior
Infielder: Vanessa Mendez, Keppel, Senior
Outfielder: Selina Mohr, La Canada, Junior
Outfielder: Elise McCarthy, Monrovia, Sophomore
Outfielder: Colleen McWilliams, La Salle, Senior
Utility: Alashanee Medina, Keppel, Senior
Pitcher: Kaysie Gatlin, Duarte, Senior
Pitcher: Denise Gonzales, Alhambra, Senior
Catcher: Karah Kirby, Rio Hondo Prep, Senior
Infielder: Amy Zeronian, Marshall, Junior
Infielder: Anjelica Amezquita, Maranatha, Sophomore
Infielder: Mary Rose Magnolia, Duarte, Junior
Infielder: Nikki Guzman, Monrovia, Senior
Infielder: Jessica Parada, Mayfield, Junior
Outfielder: Sami Jakeway, Temple City, Senior
Outfielder: Kelly Jacobs, Flintridge Sacred Heart, Junior
Outfielder: Jessica Ogden, La Canada, Junior
Utility: Julia Tsai, Pasadena Poly, Senior

By Keith Lair, SGVN

One pitch changed the course of Lauren Cox’s season.

The La Canada High School pitcher was cruising along with a 2-1 seventh-inning lead against San Marino in a late March game, the first of three Rio Hondo League meetings between the teams. She gave up a walk and then a two-run home run to Michelle Floyd. San Marino’s 3-2 victory ended La Canada’s 17-game league winning streak and the Spartans’ 20-game winning streak.

“For me it was about closing games,” said Cox, the Pasadena Star-News Player of the Year. “I knew then I needed to close games better and not get caught up in the emotion. It was a big turning point.”

Four days later, the Spartans and Monrovia were both unable to score in a game that was called because of darkness after 14 innings.

“They were our two biggest learning opportunities,” Cox recalled. “We took notice and learned.”

After those games, the only losses were against higher-ranked teams in other CIF-Southern Section divisions. The Spartans went 20-3 the rest of the way and won their second consecutive CIF-SS Division 5 title, defeating Beaumont for the second consecutive year, 7-3.

“From that (San Marino game), I think she realized that at times going straight at batters might not be in the best interest of the team,” La Canada coach K.C. Mathews said. “She found there is another avenue. I think she continued to grow as a pitcher and not just someone who can throw hard. It was a big point for her.”

Cox shared pitching duties equally with Lauren O’Leary for her first two seasons. Last year, she pitched only 3 2/3 innings because of a leg muscle injury.

But O’Leary graduated and all the pitching fell to Cox, who was finally healthy. The Spartans went 26-4-1. They won the season-opening San Dimas tournament and went 4-1 in the Woodbridge tournament.

“It was real nice to do everything myself,” she said. “I worked really hard after not playing all of the year before. It definitely was an accomplishment and my main goal was to win a CIF title. We wanted that. The girls wanted the same thing so badly. The coaching staff worked long hours. Everyone was so determined.”

In the playoffs, the University of San Diego-bound right-hander pitched three shutouts. She struck out 64 batters in the five games, including 20 in a 7-0 quarterfinal victory over Mary Star of the Sea.

“She came back stronger than when she left,” Mathews said. “Her hard work, dedication and maturity from battling back, now that was amazing. I am so happy for the season she had.”

She had a 0.62 ERA and 23-3 record, giving up only 17 earned runs. She struck out 321 batters and walked 43. Opposing teams had a .101 batting average. She had eight shutouts.

Monrovia finished third in the Rio Hondo League with a 7-6-1 record, 17-9-1 overall.

The Wildcats won five of their last seven games and reached the CIF-SS quarterfinals, losing to Beaumont, 4-0. The late charge earned first-year coach Dave Guzman Coach of the Year honors.

“We knew it was a season that was going to be a challenge and we wanted to take that challenge on,” Guzman said. “When I took the job on I knew what was already there. We knew the potential of the team. We put it all together, which we knew we could do.”

La Canada’s Catherine Horner, who is bound for the University of Tulsa, joins Cox and three other Spartans teammates, juniors Kelsey Drange, Annie Monroe an Selina Mohr, on the All-Area first team.

Horner led the Spartans in nearly every hitting category. She had a .418 batting average, scored 30 runs, had 41 hits, 29 RBIs, 15 doubles and four home runs. She drew 13 walks, including all five at-bats in that scoreless tie. Behind the plate, she did not have a passed ball, a tremendous feat for a player who had to catch fireballer Cox. She also threw out 12 of 19 runners who tried to steal on her.

“She was a wall back there,” Cox said. “She added to my success. She allowed me to throw any pitch and she would snag it.”

First baseman Drange hit .390, infielder Monroe hit .330 with 10 stolen bases and outfielder Mohr hit .365.

Floyd and San Marino teammate Alexis Watanabe are also on the team. The Titans, despite a tumultuous end to the season in which they did not have a head coach, took second to La Canada in league and finished with a 16-9 overall record.

Floyd, a junior, had a 0.88 ERA and 16-7 record. She struck out 288 and walked 36. Batters hit .139 against her. At the plate, she hit .444 with 23 RBIs and eight doubles She tied senior teammate Watanabe with 32 hits. The shortstop, who began the season with an injury, hit .508 with a team-high 24 runs, eight doubles and three triples.

“It was better than I expected,” Watanabe said. “I’m really proud of my teammates for not quitting.”

Monrovia’s CIF-SS quarterfinal run resulted in sophomore pitcher Adrienne Guerra and sophomore outfielder Elise McCarthy earning All-Area selections.

Guerra had a 1.83 ERA and 13-7 record.

McCarthy batted .417 with a team-high 28 runs and 12 RBIs. She had six doubles.

La Salle senior outfielder Colleen McWilliams batted .420 with 21 RBIs, seven doubles, four triples and three home runs.

Keppel’s Alashanee Medina, a senior, batted .370 and also pitched for the Aztecs. Teammate Vanessa Mendez, a senior third baseman, batted .567 with 22 RBIs and three home runs.

626-962-8811, ext. 2242

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