Facing probably the best pitcher this season, the Burbank High softball team would have to be picture perfect.
Daunting as this challenge was, there wasn’t a lack of confidence, but this only goes so far.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Bulldogs were put in a stranglehold by Norwalk senior hurler Breanna Vasquez, who held Burbank to three hits, striking out a season-best 16 batters with one walk and one hit batter over seven innings en route to a 4-2 win at McCambridge Park in a CIF Southern Section Division IV wild-card game.
The Lancers (11-10) did all their scoring in the first inning off junior Alyssa Porras, who gave up an infield single to Vasquez, the leadoff hitter.
When sophomore Brianna Nunez (two hits) clubbed a run-scoring double down the left-field line, Vasquez scored.
Senior Samantha Campos was hit by a pitch and freshman Estefania Perez was safe on the first of two errors in the frame.
Sophomore Angelina Perez hit back to the box and was retired at first base and sophomore Destanie Cervantes (two hits) popped up for the second out.
Junior Destiny Ochoa made it to first base on an error, but was out at second base for the third out.
“When we get down that quickly and by that much in the game, it’s really hard to get back up and start getting that energy to score more,” said Porras, who went seven innings, yielding five hits with two strikeouts and one walk. “At the end we did, but not that much.”
Porras said the team felt good coming into the game. “I think we were thinking about winning,” she said. “But it was harder to focus today because we really wanted to be in the playoffs and we had a really good season.”
The Bulldogs (16-12) shaved the advantage to 4-1 with a run in the fifth inning as junior Sarah Garelick was nicked by an offering from Vasquez with one out.
Senior Bene Snyder’s grounder moved Garelick to second base and Garelick later scored on an error.
Burbank’s second run came in the seventh when junior Desi Gomez laced a one-out single to right field which prompted junior Carly Oldfield to enter as a pinch runner.
After senior Erin Lashkari fanned for the second out, Snyder ripped a base hit up the middle as Oldfield crossed the plate that made it a two-run deficit.
Sophomore Katie Treadway then fanned to end the game and the season for the Bulldogs.
“We just didn’t come out in that first inning, because like I told the team, the first inning is just as important as the seventh inning,” Burbank coach Mike Delaney said.
Still Delaney was pleased with the effort despite the setback. “About two years ago we started implementing a team-first mentality,” he said. “It took hold this year and our seniors did a phenomenal job of instilling this to our underclassmen. Overall it’s the way we played ball. We never gave up. We got two outs and we’re battling.”
Delaney then added: “I think the girls understand what it takes to be successful. I think for us as a program we’ve got to stop looking at beating Burroughs as our championship,” he said. “It’s just an emotional game. How do we move on with a win or loss to Burroughs?”
Vasquez was in charge from the outset.
“The first couple innings I was feeling really confident. The last couple of innings I was a little nervous, but my team has my back,” said Vasquez, who will play softball at Central Florida.
There was tension in the seventh inning because the Bulldogs had runners on first and second base.
“I was thinking I didn’t want any more people to advance,” Vasquez said. “So I wanted to take it pitch by pitch and make sure I got ahead of the batters and got the strikes in.”
Vasquez came out gunning in the opening stanza as she struck out senior Macie Jensen and junior Amaya Broyls.
Vasquez then surrendered an opposite field triple to right by junior Alex Davis, but fanned senior Anysia Gonzalez.
Vasquez worked a perfect second frame after striking out Gomez and Lashkari and getting Garelick to line out to second base.
The third inning was another 1-2-3 affair for Vasquez as Snyder, Treadway and Jensen all fanned.
Vasquez struck out the side in the fourth as Broyls was retired catcher to first base, Davis looking and Gomez swinging, but issued her only walk to Gonzalez, the third hitter of the inning.
Another perfect inning came in the sixth for Vasquez, who induced Jensen and Broyls to ground out to third base and Davis to fly out to center field.