By Rick Assad
There was both terrific high drama and pride on the line for the Burbank High softball team which faced usually strong Crescenta Valley at McCambridge Park on Thursday afternoon.
After falling behind by two runs in the third inning, allowing one more tally in the fourth, tying the score in the bottom of the fourth inning, and setting the stage and tone for a single run in the sixth inning which proved just enough offense as the Bulldogs squeaked past the Falcons 4-3 in a Pacific League game.
“We definitely started a bit rocky. But we stayed focused and didn’t give up on our confidence at the plate,” Burbank coach Melissa Sanchez said. “Bases loaded with [Samantha] Buckley up to bat is a dream for us and we capitalized on it. Proud of the adversity we showed today. A lot of respect to CV for the fight they gave.”
On Tuesday, the Falcons needed 13 innings to pull out the victory and Thursday’s game was something Burbank wanted and also needed.
“Overall, we are very happy for the win. They beat us last time 1-0,” the senior shortstop, Buckley said. “It was a big win for us.”
The fateful sixth began with junior Eliza Bowren, who was the leadoff hitter in the frame, belting a hard-hit double to center field.
Sophomore Samantha Cafferty then laid down a sacrifice bunt that advanced Bowren to third base.
Senior Shelby Cribbs struck out for the second out and when senior Delilah Alvarado hit a ball to the shortstop, who failed to come up with the ball cleanly, saw the go-ahead run cross home plate.
“That was a wild game. In the beginning, it wasn’t entirely going the way Burbank usually plays but we have proved we are a comeback team,” Cribbs said of her at-bat in the fourth inning that scored a run. “My coach told me before my at-bat to hit a grounder to secure the run. Lucky enough, I hit it right down the middle and made the second baseman mess up her play to secure all runners safe.”
Sophomore Maddison Kellogg, who fanned 12 batters and allowed three hits across seven innings, walked sophomore Mila Reddy in the seventh.
Up stepped junior Jaiden Sabelis, who belted a triple to left field but a perfect throw from Alvarado to Buckley, who then rifled a throw to Cribbs, the catcher, for the first out.
“I had confidence in Bucks [Buckley] to make the play work,” Cribbs said of the throw to the plate.
Junior Haley Krohn struck out swinging for the second out and when sophomore Jasmine Hernandez fanned in the same manner, the game was over.
“Maddison stayed strong and focused and held on as best she could to get us the win,” Sanchez said of her ace pitcher.
The Falcons (13-9 and 5-2 for third place in league) scored two runs in the third as they sent six hitters to the plate.
With Reddy reaching on a walk and Sabelis safe on a single to left field, each were in scoring position when senior Sophia Kupperstein walked.
After the base on balls, the lead runner tried to score but was soon caught in a run down. The ball went back and forth from fielder to fielder and both runners scored on a throwing error.
Crescenta Valley pulled ahead 3-0 in the fourth inning as sophomore Megumi Ono laced a double into the left field corner.
Hinkle fanned for the initial out, and Ono took third base on a sacrifice bunt and scored on an error.
Incredibly the Bulldogs (14-9 and 4-3 in league for fourth place) came right back with a three-run, three-hit frame as eight batters trotted to the plate in the bottom of the fourth.
The key hits were delivered by Cribbs who drove in a run on an infield single and Buckley’s booming two-run double to left field.
“She threw me a change that I waited on and got the barrel on it,” Buckley said of her two-run hit. “She got me on a high fastball the last at-bat, so I was really happy to deliver at that point in the game.”
Senior Sasha Quintanar opened with a walk. Junior Leilah Hernandez came in to pinch run. Junior Kara Valencia singled to right field and Cafferty walked. Hernandez scored and so did Cafferty and Cribbs.
Kellogg wasn’t her sharpest after walking six batters and hitting another three, but did strike out two batters in the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, and was able to get outs when she needed.