Starting pitcher Caitlyn Brooks is too young to know much about the history of the Burbank softball program. Her coach, Nicole Drabecki, is well versed in the subject and has used the fact that her talented Bulldogs’ squad has a chance at school and program history as a motivator many times this season.
Brooks was listening.
The freshman standout delivered a complete game shutout, 1-0, and allowed just two hits to guide the Bulldogs past Downey in a CIF Southern Section Division II playoff game at McCambridge Park, Tuesday, May 22.
The win advances the Burbank program to the quarterfinals, the farthest it has gone in 36 years, and capped the best season in Drabecki era. She had made making a playoff run into “at least the quarterfinals” a preseason goal and her Bulldogs made good on that challenge this post season after narrowly missing out on a share of the Pacific League title during the regular season.
Burbank finished in a second place tie after two tough one run losses to Burroughs in the bottom of the seventh and in extra innings during the regular season. Burbank then lost a tie breaker to Crescenta Valley and drew the third seed out of the league. It hasn’t mattered as Burbank has put it all together this post season and notched its second consecutive 1-0 win in the post season behind Brooks.
Burbank beat La Reina 1-0 on May 17 after blasting Arroyo Grande, 6-1, in a Wildcard game on May 15. Brooks has now surrendered only one run in 21 post season innings while striking out 16 and walking just three. She seems to be getting better as the post season goes on too — after throwing 119 pitches in the Wildcard round, Brooks was credited with only 64 thrown pitches against Downey.
Burbank didn’t need much offense on Tuesday, which is a good thing, because it was a pitcher’s duel in every sense of the phrase and Allie Guillen matched Brooks pitch-for-pitch until the sixth inning when she ran into trouble.
The Bulldogs’ offensive catalyst, Laina Do, led off the inning with a single and then stole her team-high 20th stolen base of the season. Ashley Russo clutched-up with a RBI single to plate Do and when Brooks struck out the final batter of the game a frame later the celebration was on as Burbank players rushed the field and looked for a teammate or coach to hug.
Burbank left star Katie Hooper on third twice, including following a triple in the third. Hooper also walked twice.
Burbank will play Torrance next, on Thursday, May 24 on the last day of school for Burbank High. The way Burbank is playing, however, it doesn’t look to be the last day of the season for the Dogs. Burbank is now 23-6 on the season while Brooks is 16-4 in her inaugural high school season.