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Crescenta Valley Catches a Break and Wins, 1-0

San Fernando Valley tournament: Cervenka snares grounder and turns it into double play to beat Saugus in final.


ENCINO — Crescenta Valley High is used to riding Meredith Cervenka's arm to victory.

But in the championship game of the Gold Bracket at the San Fernando Valley softball tournament Saturday, it was Cervenka's glove that saved the day for the Falcons, ranked No. 2 in the region by The Times.

After No. 9-ranked Saugus loaded the bases with none out in the bottom of the 11th inning, Cervenka struck out Jennifer McLarty, then snared pinch-hitter Christina Gillman's high-bouncer and threw home to start a double play that completed Crescenta Valley's 1-0 victory at Hjelte Sports Center.

"I was getting really tired and most of the speed on my fastball was gone," said Cervenka, who was selected the tournament's most valuable player. "I knew if I allowed a hit, they would win.

"The only thing I was thinking was that if they hit it to me, throw it back to [home plate]. It wasn't the greatest throw, but it got the job done."

Catcher Erica Bertness stepped on home plate for a force out, then made a hard throw to first baseman Kaycee Crownover that beat Gillman by a step.

Crownover's two-out single off Megan Ivey (5-2) in the top of the 11th landed just inside the left-field line to score Tammy LaBreche.

Crownover was hitless in four at-bats with two strikeouts against freshman starter Kyla Sullivan.

"[Sullivan] must have been getting tired because she had been pitching great," Crownover said. "Melanie [McCauley] laid down a great bunt to advance Tammy to second and when Meredith [Cervenka] walked, I knew it might be up to me to get a hit. [Ivey] was throwing a lot of inside fastballs and that's what I ended up hitting."

After striking out 12 in a three-hit shutout of Notre Dame in the semifinals earlier in the day, Cervenka allowed the Centurions six hits and three walks and struck out 11.

Cervenka (13-1) has pitched every game this season and has yet to allow an earned run, but the Centurions (9-7) came close to ending her streak.

Saugus had runners on second and third with one out in the second, but Amy Snyder popped to third and Nicole Monson struck out. Saugus had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh and eighth innings but failed to capitalize.

Crescenta Valley nearly scored in the sixth when Cervenka singled to right field, but McLarty fielded the ball quickly and threw to first baseman Tiffany Arnett, who relayed to catcher Jacklyn Holden in time to tag LaBreche at the plate.

Sullivan scattered seven hits and walked one in 10 innings.

"I felt tired [after the 10th], but I could've kept going," Sullivan said. "I left that decision up to my coach. I was a little intimidated facing [Cervenka] at first. Everybody knows she's a great pitcher. But I settled in and mixed up my pitches pretty well. I gave them a lot of good screwballs."

Sullivan led her club team, the California Cruisers, to a national title last season and earned the Falcons' respect with four strikeouts and five assists.

"She left me very little margin for error," Cervenka said. "We couldn't hit her at all. We thought we might have to win this game with our defense because we've had trouble scoring runs."

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