Tim Berger Staff Photographer

Glendale High softball will return to the playoffs on Monday. (Tim Berger Staff Photographer / May 17, 2014)

Glendale High’s softball team and Nitros first-year Coach Greg Martin received the news they had been hoping for since their season began and had been crossing their fingers for since their Pacific League campaign ended on Thursday.

For the first time since 2005, the Nitros are heading to the postseason.

“This was our goal for the season,” Martin said.

Glendale will be joined in the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs by rival Crescenta Valley, as the tandem will play in Monday’s wild-card round looking to advance to the first round on Tuesday.

The Falcons (15-9) and Nitros (16-7) tied for fourth and the last automatic postseason entry in the Pacific League, but Crescenta Valley earned the automatic berth and the No. 4 seed out of the league based on a tiebreaker of head-to-head run differential. Hence, Glendale received an at-large berth.

Crescenta Valley drew a more favorable situation, at least on paper, in the wild card with it hosting Sonora on Monday at 3:15 p.m., while the Nitros are headed north to face host Knight at 3:15 p.m. However, Sonora does hold a win over Knight.

The Falcons, playoff regulars whose fourth-place finish was one of its lowest in years, lost in last season’s wild-card round to La Salle. Crescenta Valley, having lost six of its last eight games going into the postseason, is hoping to break an overall five-game postseason losing streak.

The Falcons, in their first year under head coach John Pehar, last won a playoff game in 2009, when current assistant Kali Cancelosi was an All-Area starter on the team.

Now, the Falcons are led by senior center fielder Hannah Cookson, along with senior pitcher Olivia Thayer and junior infielder Hailey Cookson.

Sonora is 13-12 and an at-large entrant after placing fourth in the Freeway League, which had tri-champions who finished two games in front of Sonora.

The winner of Monday’s game will face No. 2 seed Righetti (23-6) on Tuesday.

Glendale is set to face a Knight squad that finished second in the Golden League and boasts a 19-6 record.

“It’s a pretty tough league and they were No. 2,” Martin said of Knight. 

If the Nitros prove victorious, they’ll head back on the road Tuesday to face Sunkist League champion Grand Terrace (19-6).

“They did everything I asked. We asked them to get one or two upsets and they did,” said Martin, whose team is led by sophomore pitcher Jordan Lousararian, sophomore first baseman Alex Howard and freshman center fielder/infielder Sammy Fabian. “I put it all on the girls; they’re the ones that did it.

“It’s a giant step in the right direction.”