BURBANK — While the likes of Arcadia High, Burroughs and Crescenta Valley are jockeying for Pacific League softball playoff positioning, Burbank, the top-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division III, continues to ride roughshod over the league.
The Bulldogs provided further evidence of that on Tuesday afternoon, taking a big step forward in the hopes of clinching a league crown, as they used big innings, powerful and opportunistic offense and the steady, if not spectacular, arm of Caitlyn Brooks to roll to a 10-2 league win over Crescenta Valley at McCambridge Park.
Brooks dazzled in the circle and at the plate. She twirled a complete game, allowing two runs, six hits, one walk and struck out 10. At the dish, she had a double, a home run, three runs batted in and three runs scored.
“I’m her No. 1 fan. It’s an absolute joy and pleasure to coach her and watch her,” said Bulldogs Coach Nicole Drabecki, whose team can clinch a share of the league title this week with Burroughs (8-2 in league) in second and Crescenta Valley (11-9-1, 7-3) and Arcadia (7-3) tied for third. “I have girls who believe in themselves, willing to work hard and willing to not be selfish.”
Burbank had nine hits, including two home runs, and piled on six unearned runs thanks to four Crescenta Valley errors.
The Bulldogs posted six runs in the second to essentially put the game away early, but truly set an ominous tone for the Falcons in the first, when Brooks and Katie Hooper reached base on consecutive errors with no outs. A sacrifice fly and Jazmin Orozco (two hits, RBI, run) single later and it was 2-0.
“They hit the ball right to us three times in a row and we dropped it twice,” said Falcons Coach Mark Samford. “When you play a team that’s this good, there’s no room for shenanigans.”
Things went from bad to a whole lot worse for the Falcons in the second when another error opened the inning and Julia Duarte (two hits), the Bulldogs’ No. 8 hitter, sent a line drive to deep center for a two-run inside-the-park home run.
Bridgette Pisa followed with a bunt single and then scored on a Brooks double to right-center field to make it 5-0. Three more runs would follow thanks in part to consecutive singles by Orozco, Kaitlin Brooks and Lily Winn. The carnage could’ve been greater, but Burbank ran into its last two outs, getting punched out on a play at the plate trying to score a second run on an infield single with an 8-0 lead and then having a would-be base stealer thrown out the next pitch. In the bottom of the fifth, CV turned a 5-3-5 double play when a Burbank base runner was trying to take another base on a bunt with a 10-2 lead.
Burbank got to double digits when Brooks hit an inside-the-park blast to center field that also scored Laina Do (two runs, two stolen bases).
“I feel like our hitting’s really coming together,” Brooks said. “I think we’re building off the confidence in our hitting.”
Brooks was perfect throughout the first three innings before a Hailey Cookson triple led off the fourth. Adela Alatraca (two hits), followed with a bloop single to score Cookson. CV loaded the bases on singles by Hannah Cookson and Whitney Craig and Alatraca scored on a Chloe Fairbrother groundout, but the brief offensive surge wasn’t near enough.
Fairbrother came on and pitched three scoreless innings of relief for the Falcons, allowing one hit.
While the Bulldogs are in the driver’s seat for first, the Falcons need to right their ship quickly with a crucial tilt Wednesday against Burroughs.
“We don’t have much time to dwell on this,” Samford said.