By Rick Assad
One poor inning was all it took to put the game pretty much out of reach when Kelsey Acosta faced the best pitcher in the Pacific League on Thursday afternoon at Olive Park.
Dee Dee Hernandez doesn’t need too many runs of support, but five in the first inning were more than enough as the senior left-hander, who also pitches for the Mexican National Softball team, helped pave the way for a 7-0 victory by Crescenta Valley High over Burroughs.
How good are the Falcons, who are ranked No. 16 nationally? Consider that in four games, they have scored 84 runs and have not allowed a single run.
Acosta surrendered 12 hits including six in the initial frame as the Falcons batted around.
“That one pitch that he called a ball, ruined it because she would have been out, it was a strike,” said Acosta, who struck out three, walked two with one hit batter over seven innings. “I wasn’t hitting the corners as well as I was the rest of the game.”
Acosta knows her role on the team.
“After that second inning I felt good. I was hitting my corners and jamming them,” she said. “As a pitcher you just have to keep going, just keep throwing strikes because that’s my job.”
Junior Izzy Jamgotchian collected a run-scoring single to center field and four batters later sophomore Lily Hinkle added a two-run double to left center.
Junior Lauren Curtis tossed in a run-tallying base hit to left field and the next batter, freshman Jayden Sabelis, was safe on an infield hit that also scored a run.
Acosta then settled down and allowed a one-out single to Jamgotchian in the second inning, but induced senior Devon Medina to foul out to third base and saw freshman Haley Krohn ground out to third.
In the third inning, Acosta worked a 1-2-3 frame as the right-hander retired senior Stephanie Wichman on a grounder to second base, Hinkle on a fly out to left field and Curtis on an infield pop to shortstop.
Acosta was impressive in the fourth inning, striking out Sabelis and senior Morgan Eng, before hitting Hernandez. Acosta righted the ship and saw Jamgotchian fly out to left field.
The Falcons (4-0 and 4-0 in league) touched Acosta for a run in the fifth as Hinkle connected on a two-out, run-scoring double to right center that brought in Wichman, who singled to left.
Acosta faced six batters in the sixth inning and gave up an infield hit to Sabelis, the leadoff hitter and a single to left field by Medina along with an intentional walk to Jamgotchian, but no runs were scored.
“They’ve mercy ruled every single team in the league except us,” Burroughs coach Doug Nicol said of the Falcons. “That’s something that we can build off of.”
Nicol went on: “It really hurt us with COVID. We didn’t get to practice until March 1. I think we’ve been really behind,” he noted. “I couldn’t be more proud of them. They came out and they battled and they battled and they battled.”
Nicol knows just how talented Crescenta Valley is. “You’ve gotta give them credit. They’re one of the best teams around, not only in the area, but the country,” he said. “When you’ve got a pitcher like Dee Dee, it’s pretty hard. She’s one of the best pitchers in the country. Our girls really attacked the ball, they put the ball in the air too much. We weren’t intimidated. They’ve really been working hard.”
Crescenta Valley tacked on a solo run in the seventh inning off Acosta and were assisted by an error in the frame.
Hernandez, who surrendered three hits with seven strikeouts and two walks with one hit batter across seven frames, fanned the side in the bottom of the first.
Hernandez did allow a base hit from sophomore Rachel Little and then walked junior Isabella Scazzola.
In the second, Hernandez retired the side in order that included striking out senior Avery Mochrie.
Sophomore Stevie Dabbadie led off the third stanza for the Bears (3-7 and 2-2 in league) with a single to left, but junior Olivia Kam fouled out to first base and Little bounced into an inning-ending double play.
Burroughs went quietly in the fourth inning as Hernandez set down the order 1-2-3 that included junior Gigi Garcia being called out looking at strike three.
In the fifth, Hernandez gave up a two-out walk to junior Kiley Christopher, but was able to get Dabbadie to line out to second base.
Hernandez’s third perfect inning followed in the sixth as Kam popped up to shortstop, Little lined to right field and Scazzola fouled out to left field.
Four batters faced Hernandez in the seventh inning and the first hitter, Garcia, lined a single to right field.
Garcia would be left stranded as senior Dyani Del Castillo struck out swinging, while senior Alyssa Valenzuela popped to Hernandez and Mochrie lined to right field for the final out.