|The team poses with the Invitational trophy after winning the school’s first softball championship|
Down 4-1 in the seventh, they defeat defending Invitational champion Lincoln 6-4 in nine innings
For the first time in school history, Crenshaw will bring a City softball championship to their well-stocked trophy case after winning 6-4 in nine innings over Lincoln in the Invitational Final at UCLA’s Easton Stadium.
Crenshaw (19-4) scored three runs in the seventh to tie the game and in the ninth as Likia Keynard scored on a two-out bases-loaded walk with junior catcher Alia Williams at the plate. After scoring an additional run, pitcher Lindsay Irving shut the Tigers down to secure the win and set off the celebration.
“I’m just so proud because the girls didn’t quit,” head coach Frank Price, Jr. said after initially being at a loss for words, “All season we talked about not giving up but it’s something different when you carry it out.”
It was the first time this season that the Cougars had come all the way back from a deficit. In three of their losses – including their defeat to Palisades in the first round – they had tied the game only to lose in the seventh.
Irving, who will attempt to walk-on at UNLV next fall, went the distance in her final high school game, finishing with six strikeouts and only one earned run – a ninth-inning run by Lincoln shortstop Jenny Ly. She also picked up two hits, with her first sparking the rally in the seventh.
“I was a bit nervous in the beginning but this was my last game so I had to go out with a bang. That was my mindset the entire game,” Irving said, adding that chewing gum helped her stay calm.
Williams was 2-for-2 with three walks as her plate patience proved more valuable than her bat, which had launched a state-record 19 home runs.
“This was the toughest game of the season by far,” Williams said.
Before the game, Price tried to calm his team by reminding them they had already made history getting to this point and just to focus on playing ball. But early on, inexperience got the best of them as two errors in the first put them in an early 2-0 hole.
In total, the Cougars committed four errors but they never gave up and starting with Irving’s single in the seventh, they made their move.
“I told the girls we’re not leaving here without making some noise so be ready. Be ready to serve in any capacity,” Price said.
They would tie the game on a bizarre sequence of events. With one out, A. Edwards hit a bases-loaded infield pop-up for what appeared to be an easy out – but after Lincoln lost the ball, Crenshaw scored twice to tie the game.
After the play, the umpires held a brief meeting and ruled that Edwards was indeed called out, but according to the infield fly rule, the runners could advance at their own risk. It was a gamble that paid off as it allowed Crenshaw to snatch their season back from the jaws of defeat.
After making a costly error in the first, junior second baseman Brittnei Price atoned with an unassisted double play in the eighth to set up the Cougars’ final push
In his 15th year, Price has built a solid program that’s a far cry from when he started. The team had no practice uniforms and it was composed of anyone who wanted to play.
Now he was at a loss for words, trying to express how this title was more than a moment, but the culmination of building a successful program – a program that had already produced one breakout star (current Tennessee senior Kenora Posey) and another in Williams, who finished one of the best hitting seasons in City history.
The school is no stranger to championships, with the basketball team winning eight state and 16 City titles and the football team having won City back in 2005. For the softball team, however, this win was all about gaining respect as a legitimate branch of Crenshaw’s athletic tradition.
As the team celebrated, they knew they could very well be here next year as the team loses only three seniors and retains the heart of the lineup (Price, Williams and Williams’ younger sister Loren).
Both Irving and Williams mentioned how they have often been overshadowed by the other sports but as the varsity season ends this week, they and their teammates can take pride in doing something no other Cougar team did this year – win a City title.