By Rick Assad
It didn’t take much pondering to surmise that Burroughs High softball team’s matchup with powerful Sierra Canyon was going to be close.
It was and it took eight innings before the Bears came away with a hard-fought 3-1 triumph in a nonleague match on Monday afternoon at Olive Park when sophomore Chloe Centeno smacked a one-out, two-run homer to center field that scored Stevie Dabbadie, who was on first base with a one-out walk.
Four innings earlier, Centeno laced a homer to left center that evened the score at 1-1.
“The win was more about us trying to find ways to score against her [Hailey Shuler], which we did,” Burroughs coach Doug Nicol said. “We have a really good culture in our program. I’m really proud of these girls for digging deep and finding a way to beat a sensational team.”
Dabbadie was impressive in the circle as the senior right-hander went eight innings, striking out 12 and walking six (three intentional), while allowing six hits and one earned run.
“I think what was key was just knowing that all my teammates were behind me, and they would help me no matter what,” Dabbadie said. “They always supported me. It’s always important to trust your teammates and I feel that trust that we have really helps me throughout the game.”
Dabbadie explained her strategy. “My approach was I treated every batter the same. I just wanted to throw good pitches. Throw the game that I know I can do,” she said. “Stick to what I know and what I’ve been doing. I was very nervous. They’re a tough team. I just tried my hardest and it all worked out in the end.”
Dabbadie had helped behind the plate by senior catcher Rachel Little and pitching coach Katie Taix, as they both called a terrific game.
“Obviously Sierra Canyon is a very well-known school, and their sports are very well-known, so there’s obviously a little bit of pressure coming into it since we beat them last year too. We knew they were coming out to get us,” Little said. “We knew we were going to execute, and Stevie and I worked so well together that there wasn’t any doubt that we were going to win.”
Little had praise for her pitcher.
“Stevie gets a lot of adrenaline going and we feed off each other a lot and we have a lot of trust in each other, so it helps shake those nerves off,” she said.
Dabbadie’s counterpart, junior hurler Shuler, who will pitch for Duke, was almost as good as the talented right-hander went seven and one-third frames, fanning 10 and walking three with three runs allowed and six hits surrendered.
The game was a pitching battle and for several innings as neither pitcher blinked until the Trailblazers (4-2-1) scored in the third inning.
Freshman Natalia Areliz hit a single to right field that brought home Shuler, who drew a two-out walk, stole second base.
The Bears (6-1) threatened in the bottom of the third when senior Lilly Lewis reached on an infield single.
Lewis took second base on Little’s grounder and scooted to third base on a wild pitch, but Dabbadie fanned looking for the third out.
In the bottom of the fourth, Centeno, the leadoff hitter in the frame, rifled an offering from Shuler between the left fielder and center fielder. When the ball split the defenders, Centeno raced home to tie the match at 1-1.
It took another four innings before the Bears clinched the win in grand style.
After issuing a two-out walk to junior Isabella Mertes in the first inning, Dabbadie saw senior Madeline Debs fly to right field.
Dabbadie worked a perfect second inning when junior Lilianna Lara lined to the pitcher, junior Ava Debs flied to center and senior Kendall Huddleston struck out swinging.
Freshman Sophia Sarni fanned looking to begin the third inning and junior Onthatile Ditshego struck out swinging. The third out came when Little threw out a runner at third base.
Dabbadie then retired the first two batters in the fourth, Madeline Debs on a fly to center field and Lara on a foul before Ava Debs reached on a hit to right center. Huddleston fanned on a called third strike for Dabbadie’s fifth strikeout.
In the fifth frame, Dabbadie faced four batters and struck out Sarni looking and Ditshego swinging and then gave up an infield single to Shuler, but then induced Areliz to hit a grounder to third base.
Dabbadie walked a tightrope in the sixth frame when Mertes and Madeline Debs both singled to left field.
Lara fanned looking and Ava Debs was intentionally walked to fill the bases. Huddleston struck out swinging and Sarni popped to third base to end the inning.
More trouble awaited Dabbadie in the seventh as six batters came to the plate. Ditshego fanned swinging, Shuler was safe on an infield hit and Areliz fanned looking for the 11th strikeout.
Mertes and Madeline Debs were intentionally walked before Lara flied to right to cap the frame.
In the first inning for the Bears, junior Gizelle Rangsiyawong reached on a one-out infield single but failed to advance.
In the fifth frame, Little, a senior, hit a high fly to left that fell for a sun-assisted double and then went to third on Rangsiyawong’s groundout.
In the seventh inning for Burroughs, freshman Karlee Earl singled up the middle and stole second base, but the freshman advanced no further.