Tim Berger Staff Photographer

Olivia Leyva, Olivia Lam and the La Canada High softball team will open up the playoffs on Tuesday. (Tim Berger Staff Photographer / May 17, 2014)

After closing out its time in CIF Southern Section Division V with back-to-back championships in 2011 and 2012, the La Cañada High softball team missed out last season on qualifying for the Division IV playoffs.

The Spartans' wait to participate in a Division IV playoff game will come to an end when they face visiting Hawthorne in a first-round contest at 3:15 p.m. Tuesday.

La Cañada (15-9) finished second in the Rio Hondo League. Hawthorne (17-8) took second in the Ocean League.

While the Spartans enter the playoffs having lost their last two league games, La Cañada Coach KC Mathews said the Spartans have the personnel to shift gears.

"We have quite a few players left on the team who have won CIF before," said Mathews, whose team suffered losses to Monrovia on Tuesday and San Marino on Thursday after winning its previous four games. "So, they understand what it's like to be in pressure-type situations.

"Both teams took second in their leagues. I'll be doing some homework and researching Hawthorne. It's going to be good to play at home. We've come off a couple of good practices and we are confident we can get back on track."

The Cougars are 7-3 in their last 10 contests.

The winner will face top-seeded Loara (19-7), West Valley (14-10) or Moreno Valley (12-7) in a second-round game Thursday. Loara captured the Golden West League championship. West Valley and Moreno placed third and fourth in the Mountain Pass and River Valley leagues, respectively, and will play Monday in a wild-card game.