With Belinda Lujano leading off, it’s a major plus for the Burbank High softball team.
It might be a huge reason why the Bulldogs could perhaps climb in the Pacific League and earn a return trip to the CIF playoffs this season.
Lujano certainly got the job done Tuesday, as she finished with three hits and drove in three runs to power host Burbank to a 13-2 nonleague win against South Pasadena at windy McCambridge Park. The contest was called in the bottom of the sixth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule.
“I want to keep improving with the bat and striking out less,” said Lujano, a junior centerfielder who registered two triples and scored one run. “You just try to build confidence with each at-bat. I did that on my first triple and I got a little more confident going to the plate and getting that second triple.
“We have a lot of returners and it’s a really good group that we have here. We want to take advantage of that.”
Burbank (2-1) finished with 10 hits and never trailed against South Pasadena (0-1).
Lujano played a big role in helping the Bulldogs, who finished fourth in league before falling, 1-0, to eventual champion Temple City in a CIF Southern Section Division IV first-round playoff game last season, jump out early.
Lujano led off the bottom of the first with a triple to right and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Eliza Bowren to make it 1-0. Lujano then drove in a run with a two-out triple to extend Burbank’s lead to 2-0 in the second.
“She had two big triples right away,” Burbank coach Melissa Sanchez said. “She means everything to us in that she’s very scrappy and is very aggressive at the plate. I’m always confident when she’s up there and ready to do something big.”
Kara Valencia hit a towering home run over the left-field fence to give the Bulldogs a 4-0 cushion in the third. Bowren had a run-scoring single to make it 6-0 in the fourth before a bases-loaded walk to Valencia made it 7-0.
The Bulldogs scored six runs in the sixth, capped by a two-run single by Lujano to seal the victory.
Samantha Cafferty and Delilah Alvarado each had two hits for Burbank. Cafferty and Valencia scored two runs apiece for the Bulldogs, who opened the season Saturday splitting a pair of games in the Hart Tournament in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Burbank pitchers Maddison Kellog and Kayla Orozco limited the Tigers to five hits. Kellog started, allowing one hit and striking out six in 3 1/3 innings. Orozco struck out two and yielded two runs.
“Over the last few years, we’ve had a lot of young players,” said Sanchez, a former Burbank player from 2006-09. “This year, we have a lot of older players and returners. They are wiser and stronger. It’s really exciting. We are confident in our ability. Now we will see what we can do.”
Burbank will take on Eagle Rock at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at McCambridge Park.