Burbank Softball Takes Major Step with Victory over Burroughs

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Burbank vs. Burroughs brought out a capacity crowd Thursday night (Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Burbank vs. Burroughs brought out a capacity crowd Thursday night (Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Burbank vs. Burroughs brought out a capacity crowd Thursday night (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

By Rick Assad
Special to MyBurbank

It’s a good thing that Caitlin Brooks is not only Burbank High’s ace softball pitcher, but a steady and calming influence.

Brooks’ presence in the circle and the batter’s box Thursday night propelled the Bulldogs to a 5-1 victory over rival Burroughs in a Pacific League showdown at Olive Park before a capacity crowd.

The win gave first-place and defending league champion Burbank (17-3 and 8-0 in league) a two-game cushion over the Indians, who came within 2-1 in the bottom of the second inning, but were stifled from that point forward.

Caitlyn Brooks pitched a complete game win (Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Caitlyn Brooks pitched a complete game win (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“I feel pressure to perform,” said Brooks, a junior, who allowed seven hits, one run (earned), while striking out nine with no walks, “but I try to stay calm and relax.”

Brooks, now 16-3 as a hurler this season, has whiffed 180 batters in 119 innings.

“They were trying to pull the ball,” she said. “But you have to trust your pitches.”

The Bulldogs own a 15-game winning streak and are ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Division III.

Brooks added two hits that included a first-inning, two-run inside-the-park homer off Cheyenne Steward.

The hit was a sinking liner that right fielder Naelyse Garcia dived for but scooted past her. On the play Isabele Frias, who was hit by a Steward offering with one out, came around and scored.

In that same frame, Steward, who surrendered seven hits, five earned runs, fanning three with one walk, yielded a single to Lily Winn, but then got Julia Duarte to fly out and Jazmin Orozco to pop up.

Burbank's Lily Winn fires a throw to first base (Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Burbank’s Lily Winn fires a throw to first base (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“Our players came into the game loose, but they were focused,” Burbank coach Mike Delaney said.

The first-year Burbank skipper had praise for his star pitcher who has been offered a scholarship to Notre Dame.

“She inspires the team a lot,” he said. “She’s a humble athlete. That’s remarkable for a young athlete.”

Though Steward absorbed the loss, she eventually found her groove over the final four innings, retiring the side in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth inning before giving up a two-out walk to Frias in the seventh.

“I thought we did well against Caitlin,” Burroughs coach Doug Nicol said. “We played good enough to win.  We didn’t string hits together, but I thought we had great at-bats.”

Ranked No. 8 in Division III, Burroughs (14-5-1 and 6-2 in league) trimmed the lead to one run in the bottom of the second. Steward led off with a single, and Brianna Devellano came in as a courtesy runner.

D.J. Santos had the lone RBI for the Indians (Photo by Ross A. Benson)
D.J. Santos had the lone RBI for the Indians (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Aimee Rodriguez was nicked by a pitch, and Delaney Nicol laid down a sacrifice bunt. Brooks then struck out Tori Talavera, but allowed a single to D.J. Santos that scored Devellano.

A three-run explosion in the third inning seemingly iced the affair given that Brooks hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs this campaign.

Frias singled to open the frame and Brooks’ base hit advanced her to second base. Winn’s single loaded the bases, and Duarte’s single made it 3-1. Orozco’s hit gave the Bulldogs a 4-1 edge, and it became 5-1 on Kaitlin Brooks’ sacrifice fly.

The Indians had something brewing in the fifth when Michelle Santiago singled to lead off the inning. Brooks then fanned Sidney Ortega and Danielle Ryan, but hit Kaitlin Okimoto.

Steward singled and Santiago rounded third base and tried to score, but was tagged out at the plate after colliding with catcher Bridgette Pisa, who held on to the ball.

Santiago was ejected from the game and will not play in Tuesday’s contest against visiting Crescenta Valley.

The two crosstown rivals will meet again on May 14 at 6 p.m. at McCambridge Park.

 

 

 

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