By Rick Assad
Special to MyBurbank
Trying to score against Burroughs High freshman pitcher Presley Miraglia has been a tall order, but the right-hander has been especially difficult recently, having tossed five straight shutouts including one against Beaumont, which fell, 3-0, to the Indians in a CIF Southern Section Division III first-round playoff game on Thursday at Olive Park.
Miraglia, who has six pitches at her disposal and faced 24 batters in seven innings, was perfect through four frames and didn’t allow a hit until senior Khassidy Valdivia singled to right field with one out in the top of the fifth. Miraglia settled down and struck out junior Micah Stamper and freshman Alyssa Gonzalez.
The Cougars (12-15) also mustered senior Jackie Reilly’s two-out single to right in the sixth inning, but Miraglia escaped unscathed after striking out sophomore Mikayla Mendoza.
The other hit Miraglia yielded was Valdivia’s two-out single to center field in the seventh inning, but then fanned Stamper.
“I wasn’t nervous at all,” said Miraglia, who lowered her earned-run average to 2.03 of her initial playoff outing, and is 20-4 with 104 strikeouts and 22 walks. “I know it was a big game, but I wanted to take it like it was another game.”
Miraglia, who can throw a fastball, curveball, changeup, screwball, drop and rise, finished with nine strikeouts and no walks.
“I wanted them to hit my pitches,” she said. “You need to get first-pitch strikes.”
Burroughs coach Doug Nicol echoed Miraglia’s sentiment, and will get his troops prepared to play at Laguna Hills in a second-round match next Tuesday.
Besides Miraglia, Nicol’s pitching staff includes freshman Hannah Talavera (3-0), and has produced 15 shutouts as a team.
The Indians didn’t make an error, and now have an eight-game winning streak that included snapping Burbank’s 41-game Pacific League mark with a 1-0 extra-inning triumph to end the regular season, along with a 13-game run earlier in the campaign. Burroughs earned a share of the league title with the Bulldogs.
“The way Presley is pitching you had to feel good about the game,” Nicol said. “We feel if we play good defense and score a couple of runs, we’re going to be successful. I’m so happy with the win. We’re taking it one game at a time. It’s survive and advance.”
All the Indians’ runs came in the fifth inning off sophomore hurler Jaymee Rhodes (8-9), who surrendered six hits across six innings, striking out one and walking one.
No. 5 seed Burroughs (23-4) can employ the long-ball approach or small-ball. In this case, the latter sufficed as eight batters came to the plate against Rhodes, who entered with a 3.42 ERA, and walked senior Tori Talavera, the leadoff hitter. Sophomore Lauren Lopez, who singled in the third inning, followed with a bunt and was safe, while senior Kailanie Oasay also bunted and reached base. Senior Delaney Nicol reached first base on a fielder’s choice, which made it 1-0.
Kaitlin Okimoto followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0, and Miraglia’s line-drive single to left field gave the Indians a 3-0 edge.
Miraglia, who also had an infield single in the fourth, fanned Reilly and freshman Rachel Knerr in the first inning, and induced senior Marissa Knowles to pop up in the infield, which she snagged in front of home plate.
Junior Natalie Giroux grounded to second baseman Lopez and Valdivia flied to right fielder Oasay, before Miraglia struck out Stamper to end the second inning.
Gonzalez and sophomore Savannah Flinn each flied to Oasay in the third inning, and Miraglia struck out senior Taylor Smith.
Reilly lined to left fielder Dominique Santos, who singled to right center in the sixth, Knerr fouled to third baseman Brianna Johnson, and Knowles grounded to Miraglia to finish the fourth.
“I knew that we would give a good effort,” Beaumont coach Frankie Fuimaono said. “They [Burroughs] played really good defense. We made a few errors. This was a tough loss for the seniors.”
The Cougars committed an error in the first inning when Nicol reached base, but Okimoto lined out and Miraglia grounded out, and another miscue in the fourth when Johnson was safe, but didn’t score.