Tag Archives: Softball

Caitlyn Brooks, Notre Dame Graduate, Caps College Career In Style

By Rick Assad
 
 

 

There are certain qualities or assets that one needs in order to be successful in life and in sports.

In the case of athletics, physical and mental gifts are essential and they go a long way. But even if one possesses these attributes, it’s also helpful, and perhaps necessary, to put in the time and hard work in order to get better.

For Caitlyn Brooks, who played four seasons on the University of Notre Dame women’s softball team and before that was a highly-decorated standout on the Burbank High softball squad, had all three in her tool box, but like the very best, always wanted to improve.

Caitlyn Brooks swinging from her heels. The former Burbank High star hit 48 homers over her career at Notre Dame. It’s tied for the second-most all-time.

“Caitlyn put in a lot of hard work other than just normal practices,” said Mike Delaney, who was the Bulldogs softball coach who oversaw Brooks during her tenure at Burbank which began in 2012 and ended in 2015. “Extra hitting lessons and pitching lessons weekly.”

Delaney, who recently stepped down from that post, added: “She had a great work ethic and was always quick to praise her teammates,” he said. “She loved the individual matchups. Pitcher versus pitcher. Pitcher versus batter. Caitlyn understood her swing and pitching motion extremely well.”

There is a small percentage of people talented enough to play sports for the Fighting Irish. What was that experience like?

“Being at Notre Dame exceeded my expectations for sure,” said Brooks, who capped off her college career by being named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in 2019 after breaking the school’s single-season home run record with 20 and leading the team in five offensive categories. “It is such a magical place and I really started to understand and experience that throughout my four years.”

Brooks was also an effective pitcher for the Fighting Irish and before that a stellar hurler for the Bulldogs, where she went 80-17 over a four-year career.

Getting selected ACC Player of the Year had to be an unexpected surprise for Brooks.

“Being named ACC Player of the Year was a total shock to me,” said Brooks, who was also named to the ACC All-Academic team. “I never look at stats and this year I knew I was doing well, but that wasn’t anything I thought that I would achieve. Earning that title was really cool and I remember calling my parents [Shari and Roger] and we all were so excited and cheering. It was also really cool to see all of my teammates excel too and also support me. They are what made it special because this team was so amazing and special.”

How difficult was college compared to high school, both scholastically and athletically? “The hardest part of transitioning was the academics,” said Brooks, who received a bachelor of arts degree in film/cinema and video studies and will work in social media marketing. “For me that was the hardest part of Notre Dame. Softball was the most consistent and smoothest transition.”

What was it like for Brooks, who carved out a staggering 80-17 record with 1,011 strikeouts as a high school hurler, to actually put on the spikes for Notre Dame?

Brooks was selected Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year in 2019 after leading Notre Dame in homers with 20, the most in a single season.

“I was definitely nervous my first time putting on the Irish uniform, but I wanted to compete and that was really exhilarating,” she said. “Once I got my first hit, I felt completely comfortable.”

Brooks said she was at ease from the outset. “Our team is like a family and that starts from the moment you’re introduced when you’re a recruit,” she noted. “I always knew Notre Dame was for me because of the team culture which is cultivated by our amazing coaches. From the moment you first speak to them, you know that they are great coaches and even better people. I felt part of the Irish team as a recruit and from the moment I stepped on campus as a freshman.”

This feeling of security and care begins with Deanna Gumpf, the Notre Dame head coach.

“She is so inspiring and is like a second mom to us all,” said Brooks, who paced the Fighting Irish in homers with nine and runs batted in with 38 as a junior. “I love how direct and passionate she is. She truly wants to see us succeed on and off the field. Notre Dame develops us into great athletes and even better women and that starts at the top by always being an example of excellence and kindness. Coach Gumpf knows us better than we know ourselves sometimes and that is what makes her such an incredible coach and person. She is definitely a role model for me.”

Brooks was a threat in the batter’s box and in the pitcher’s circle at the high school and collegiate level. Which one was more appealing?

“For sure the batter’s box. Being in the box I can fully relax and be laser focused, but have no pressure,” Brooks said. “Or at least I tell myself that there is no pressure. I also know that the girl behind me is going to get it done and having that confidence and support takes all of the pressure off. I found my stride in the box and really loved softball and the game.”

Brooks ended her college career tied for second place all-time with 48 home runs. “Most of it was from this year,” said Brooks of her senior season. “I wasn’t trying to hit the ball out, but I was really focused on my timing, pitch selection and mechanics this season and I had a great result.”

There was a lot of celebrating when Brooks was at the plate. Here Brooks (No. 16) crosses the plate and is congratulated by teammates.

Brooks, who clubbed 21 homers during her final three seasons as a Bulldog, then added: “When it came to pitching, I definitely put too much pressure on myself, but I loved competing. I think my role as a reliever and just come in and do my job on the mound took the pressure off and really let me focus on hitting during the game,” she said.

Brooks said her approach to hitting was vastly different from pitching.

“My main thoughts were to focus on my breath and my approach,” she said. “I watch a lot of film before a game on the pitcher and saw what they threw and adjusted my plan to the pitcher and my strength. Usually I was looking inside and attacking that pitch if it was a strike. In the circle, I would just focus on my routine and breath. I would visualize the pitch when I got my sign and go for it.”

Brooks, who batted .304 with eight homers and 39 RBIs as a sophomore, said even if the team struggled, which was rare, they were always unified.

“I really relied on my teammates and talking it out with the sports psychologist. A lot of athletes benefit from the sports psychologist and it was a resource that is always very encouraged,” Brooks said. “It really helped me with the challenges of softball and life.”

Did one hit or game stand out for Brooks, who batted .335 with a .416 on-base percentage and 55 RBIs, the most-ever by a Notre Dame freshman?

“I think the game that I broke the single-season home run record was huge,” said Brooks, who bashed a team-high 11 homers with a team-best .639 slugging percentage as a freshman. “It was against Pittsburgh, and when I broke the record it was my first collegiate grand slam which was super cool. It also could be the farthest ball that I’ve ever hit.”

Brooks continued: “After that game they gave my mom the ball and having her and my dad there to see it was awesome,” he pointed out. “My team was so pumped for me and seeing them at home plate going crazy is something that I will never forget.”

Did Brooks have targets she wanted to reach? “I set goals with myself and our coaches,” she said. “My plan had more to do with my approaches and learning from the previous year. For pitching, it was understanding my role and really capitalizing when I was called upon. Being that consistent force to get us out of a jam and always be ready. For hitting, my approach was about attacking the first two strikes. Once I started doing that I noticed a massive difference in my swing.”

Because of their lofty status, youngsters often look up to athletes. There may be local girls who admire Brooks, who posted an 18-5 mark, with a 0.66 earned-run average, 264 strikeouts, 18 walks in 149 and one-third innings as a high school senior, and would like to emulate her. Does Brooks have any advice?

“I would say that you should get the best grades that you can because grades get you into any school you want and you can always try out,” she said. “I would also say to go to camps and get on the best travel team that you can. If you get great grades and compete at the highest level, with the best competition, then you are marketing yourself in the best way that you can.”

Delaney thinks that Brooks is an inspiration to young girls who want to play softball, even if they don’t play for Notre Dame.

“Caitlyn is a great example for younger athletes in Burbank,” he said. “She was a great student and a great athlete.”

Looking back and reflecting on her college career at Notre Dame, Brooks is extremely thankful for the opportunity and wouldn’t do anything differently.

“So far there isn’t anything I regret during my four years,” she said. “I did more than I expected to academically and athletically.”

Melissa Sanchez Chosen As Next Burbank Softball Coach

By Rick Assad

 

Melissa Sanchez has been named as the next Burbank High girls’ softball coach.

Sanchez replaces Mike Delaney, a longtime softball coach in Southern California, who recently stepped down from the position.

For Sanchez, it’s a homecoming of sorts after playing for the Bulldogs and now stepping in as coach.

“I’m so excited for the opportunity,” said Sanchez, who played for East Los Angeles College and then won a scholarship to Cal State University East Bay where she played center field. “I can’t wait to start. This is not a hobby. It’s a full-time job and I’m going to give 110 percent.”

Melissa Sanchez will lead the Burbank softball team. (Photo credit Melissa Sanchez)

At this point, Sanchez, who has been a travel ball coach, is just getting her feet wet, but thinks the future is going to be bright for the Bulldogs.

Under Delaney, the Bulldogs were usually in the top half of the Pacific League standings and more often than not advanced to the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

This is Sanchez’s first head coaching job, but played for Burbank beginning with her freshman season in 2006 and capping it off in 2009 when she graduated.

“My values and philosophy are to push the girls hard in order to be the best players that they can be. They will be confident and will have a winning mentality.”

Sanchez they added: “There’s going to be structure during practice and it’s going to be regimented. I’m going to develop the girls. It begins at the junior varsity level. That’s why you need a good JV coach in order to bring along the young ones.”

Sanchez was asked what’s the main difference between coaching travel ball and high school.

“The difference in travel ball is you can pick and choose the players,” she said. “In high school, you get what you get. But on the softball field, I control the energy level.”

Sanchez said loyalty is a key. “I think it’s important to learn loyalty,” she said. “Loyalty to the program is important. To make that commitment. I’m from Burbank. I want to build the program.”

Sanchez continied: “I know that it takes time to build that trust. But as long as I’m prepared, I think that I’m going to build a solid program that’s going to be good. I want to show that they made the right choice in hiring me.”

Sanchez believes it’s the coaches responsibility to get the team pulling in one direction, as Tom Lasorda, former Dodger and Hall of Fame manager famously once said.

“It’s the coaches job to motivate the girls to play,” she noted. “To explain why it’s important to work hard, to be excited and want to go to practice.”

In Sanchez’s system, everyone on the team will contribute, and that includes the substitutes. “The bench will have a big role,” she explained. “It’s going to be a positive environment.”

Mike Delaney, Burbank Softball Coach, Resigns Position

By Rick Assad

 

Upon initial inspection, it appears that being a high school softball coach is a pretty easy job.

You simply gather your players for a pregame drill and then the team plays a game. Then you conduct another pregame drill and play another game. Add a few more practices and that’s it.

But in reality, it’s far more complicated and nuanced than that and it’s also very time consuming.

For Mike Delaney, the longtime Burbank High skipper, the job simply demanded too much of his time on and off the field. On Monday, he stepped down from the position.

Mike Delaney stepped down as Burbank High’s softball coach. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“I had been mulling this over for a couple of months,” Delaney said of resigning. “I made up my mind two or three weeks ago.”

Delaney informed Burbank principal, Dr. Michael Bertram of his decision a while ago and said he had the full support of Bertram and the entire athletic department staff during his tenure on the clock.

Delaney then added: “It’s been a really time consuming job,” he said after serving as the head coach for six years.

Delaney gathered the team on Monday before exit meetings and told them he would not be back next season.

This is the letter Delaney sent to the players’ parents.

“There are a few reasons that I made this decision. First and foremost the position of head coach had become extremely time consuming off the field,” he wrote. “Resolving and or mediating conflict between boosters and parents regarding fundraising became an almost nightly occurrence with either phone calls, texts or emails.”

The letter continued: “This along with [the] district’s inability to resolve the majority of our [Title IX] concerns, and my concern that neither could be resolved quickly or without a bigger off field time commitment from me were major factors in my decision,” it read. “I could no longer rationalize the amount of time I was taking away from my family.”

Burbank finished 11-13-1 overall this campaign and went 8-6 for fourth place in the Pacific League.

In a CIF Southern Section first-round playoff match on the road, the Bulldogs lost to Pomona Catholic 10-2.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time with each and every team,” Delaney said. “But the job took up too much of my time.”

On most weeks, Delaney and his staff put in no less than 15 hours and as many as 18 hours.

“Now softball is practically a year-round sport,” he pointed out. “It begins in August and runs until the end of the year. When I first started, it began in January and went until the end of the year.”

If one considers travel ball, softball is indeed a year-long sport, but Delaney wasn’t a travel-ball coach.

One point, of the eight league schools, only Burbank and Burroughs don’t have an on-campus softball field and a batting cage.

Still, the Bulldogs were successful despite this under Delaney, making the postseason five of the six seasons.

Delaney, who also coached at Village Christian for nine years, said that core values are an essential lesson the girls will take with them.

“Every year is different and every year is a challenge,” he said. “Teaching the core values was important from the time they were freshmen.”

Delaney added: “I always felt it was a privilege to be the head coach and a huge responsibility to those athletes.”

Delaney said that when he drove home, it hit him that he’s not the coach. “Those are great memories,” he said. “There are some who are part-time players and there are travel-ball players and they want to get to the next level. But to see the joy in each of them is what makes it so rewarding.”

Delaney summarized his feelings: “Every team wants to win, but there is only one team that’s going to win in each division,” he said. “Of course I want them to compete. But having core values is what they’re going to take with them.”

Burroughs Softball Rallies Past City Rival Burbank 5-4

By Rick Assad

 

There were twists and turns and an eventual resolution in the seventh inning when the Burroughs High softball team faced its arch and city rival Burbank at Olive Park.

A two-run explosion that featured three hits helped propel the Indians to a 5-4 come-from-behind triumph over the Bulldogs in a Pacific League encounter before a near capacity crowd on Friday night.

Dyani Del Castillo was credited with the 5-4 win over Burbank. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“It was exciting,” Burroughs coach Wes Tanigawa said of the one-run thriller. “That’s how you want games, right? You don’t want games boring?”

Tanigawa became serious and added: “I actually think the turning point is when I brought one of my sub players in and she got a great hit,” he said of junior Sabrina Englebrecht, who singled twice. “I think that really motivated the team. It was getting toward the end of the game. The girls were kind of coming down a little bit, but Sabrina coming off the bench with that hit pumped them all up and got everybody into the game.”

Sophomore Dyani Del Castillo began the frame with a bloop single to right field off senior Alyssa Porras and sophomore Alyssa Valenzuela’s hit to left saw Del Castillo advance to second base.

Porras struck out senior Citlali Mendez swinging, but nicked senior Megan Williams, which loaded the bases.

Englebrecht lashed a sharp base hit to center that brought home Del Castillo with the tying run and when senior Hannah Skinner lofted a sacrifice fly to left field, Valenzuela, who contributed three singles, crossed the plate with the winning run.

Alyssa Porras struggled at times and was the hard-luck loser. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“I felt calm. l knew I was there already. Runners on really didn’t faze me,” said Skinner of her clutch at-bat in the seventh. “I already had a few hits before, so I knew what I was doing. I knew what she was throwing. When she was throwing all that junk, I knew she was tired at that point. I just stayed on it,” she noted.

Skinner, who singled twice, said that she was somewhat nervous early in the game, but then relaxed.

“It’s always the nerves that get us,” she said. “It’s just the nerves that get to both teams, but I calmed down as the game went on.”

The Bulldogs (4-6-2 and 3-3 in league) leaped ahead 4-3 in the top of the seventh when Porras (two hits) opened the frame with a double to center field off Del Castillo.

Del Castillo’s wild pitch moved Porras to third base and when sophomore Victoria Sanchez lifted a sacrifice fly to center field, Burbank pulled ahead by one run.

Burroughs, which finished with 14 hits, scored two runs in the first inning as Del Castillo’s double to left field brought home senior Mia Storer, who delivered a bloop single to left for a 1-0 edge.

Citlali Mendez unloads a throw during a one-run win over Burbank. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

It became 2-0 on Valenzuela’s base hit up the middle as senior Sierra Harvey, who singled, crossed home plate.

The Bulldogs, who managed five hits, evened it at 2-2 in the second inning as the Indians (7-5 and 5-1 in league) committed three of their four errors.

“It seemed like we played pepper with the left side of their infield today for the first few innings,” Burbank coach Mike Delaney said. “You’ve just got to be able to make some adjustments, but it took us a long time to figure that out. It’s an innings game. You can’t waste innings.”

Delaney, who saw his club commit two miscues, continued: “There was a good ebb and flow to the game. We rattled them and they rattled us. Hats off to them. They executed when they had to,” he said. “We battled and that’s what I love about this team. They find ways to score. Every single inning has to matter.”

Desi Gomez, who usually plays third base, was behind the plate for the Bulldogs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Senior Izzy Sanchez had a run-scoring infield hit in the top of the second frame that scored sophomore Erika Montoya, who led off with a  triple to right field.

In the bottom half of the second, Burroughs reclaimed the lead, 3-2, when Storer’s bloop base hit to center field plated Skinner, who singled to left field.

Burbank evened it at 3-3 with a run in the fifth inning when senior Alex Davis lined a bullet to center field that eluded Storer as she raced around the bases for a home run.

In the sixth inning, Storer made a spectacular diving catch of a potential double or perhaps triple off the bat of Montoya.

The Indians collected 14 hits with five runs against the visiting Bulldogs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Del Castillo was the winning pitcher after working seven innings, striking out one, walking two and hitting a batter.

Del Castillo induced Davis and senior Amaya Broyls to bounce out to third base in the first inning and after hitting senior Desi Gomez with a pitch, saw sophomore Lily Stell ground out to third.

Del Castillo set down the order in the third inning when Broyls was out after making contract with the ball while out of the batter’s box, Gomez popped to second base and Stell flied to right field.

Del Castillo tossed another 1-2-3 inning in the fourth when Montoya grounded to shortstop, while junior Tiffany Estrada and Izzy Sanchez each bounced back to the box.

Del Castillo’s third perfect frame was the sixth as Montoya lined to center field, while Estrada bounced to third base and Izzy Sanchez grounded to shortstop.

Porras was tagged with the setback, fanning four and hitting three batters across seven innings.

Porras allowed at least one hit in every inning except the fifth when she faced four batters, with Del Castillo the only base runner after getting hit with the pitch.

Part of the 14-hit Indians’ offensive barrage included base hits for Williams and senior Morgan Mersola.

Burroughs Softball Blanked By Crescenta Valley 5-0, Collects One Hit

By Rick Assad

 

Stepping into the batter’s box and facing Crescenta Valley High pitcher Dee Dee Hernandez’s impressive arsenal isn’t an enviable task.

On Tuesday afternoon at Olive Park, the Burroughs softball team found out exactly just how tough the sophomore is after taming the Indians 5-0 and throwing a one-hitter across seven frames in a Pacific League game.

Freshman pitcher Kelsey Acosta went four innings and allowed six hits with four runs against the Falcons. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Hernandez didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning when senior Hannah Skinner lined a sharp single to left field.

What followed were three consecutive outs as junior Chloe Bookmyer flied to left field, senior Mia Storer popped to second base and senior Sierra Harvey grounded to second base.

“It’s CV. They’re a good hitting team. They’ve got a good pitcher. It’s all mental,” said Burroughs coach Wes Tanigawa, whose team is 3-4 and 2-1 in league. “The girls just gotta learn how to focus better.”

Tanigawa then added: “They feel pressure because they know this is a really good pitcher and they want to show they can do something,” he said. “They just have to learn to slow down the game.”

Hernandez toiled seven effective innings, struck out seven batters without issuing a walk and seemed cool as a cucumber.

Hernandez seized control from the outset, striking out freshman Kelsey Acosta and junior Isabella Kam swinging and inducing junior Sabrina Englebrecht to fly to center field.

Chloe Bookmyer shown taking a big swing against Dee Dee Hernandez, who tossed a one-hitter. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“We’re just grinding,” said Crescenta Valley coach Amanda Peek, who saw the Falcons improve to 9-2-1 and 2-0 in league. “The girls didn’t come out like they wanted to today. Dee Dee’s a grinder. Our girls who show up daily, showed up today.”

Peek added: “Defense wins championships and that’s our mindset. Hitting comes and goes,” she noted.

Hernandez worked a perfect second inning as Skinner grounded to first base, Bookmyer bounced to second base and Storer fanned looking.

Harvey led off the third inning by grounding to shortstop, senior Citlali Mendez, who came into the game as a replacement for senior Lauryn Valenzuela at shortstop, then lined to shortstop and junior Memorie Munoz struck out swinging.

Hernandez worked a 1-2-3 fourth frame, fanning Acosta and Kam swinging and then getting Englebrecht to bounce back to the box.

Mia Storer takes her hacks against Dee Dee Hernandez, who went seven innings. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Mendez fouled out to third base to begin the sixth inning, Munoz popped to third base and sophomore Dyani Del Castillo, who relieved Acosta in the fifth inning, grounded to third base.

Kam opened the seventh inning by bouncing back to Hernandez, senior pinch hitter Morgan Mersola struck out swinging and Skinner popped to third base for the game’s final out.

The Falcons’ offense started off early against Acosta, who was making her first start against the defending league champions.

Acosta was admittedly nervous before her outing, but throws hard and accurate and seemed confident in the circle.

In four innings, Acosta, who will learn how to throw a changeup, allowed six hits with three strikeouts and one walk.

Del Castillo worked three innings, fanning three, walking three, hitting one batter and surrendering three hits.

Crescenta Valley collected just one hit off Acosta in the first inning, but it produced two runs as freshman Izzy Jamgotchian lined a double to left field as senior Alyssa Hernandez, who was safe on an error and Hernandez, who walked and had a pinch runner enter for her, both scored to make it 2-0.

Alyssa Hernandez and sophomore Stephanie Wichman each collected two singles for the Falcons.

Jamgotchian advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt from senior Kristy Taix and crossed the plate for a 3-0 lead when senior Peyton Hause was safe on the second error in the inning.

The Falcons added a run in the fourth inning to make it 4-0 when sophomore Morgan Eng drilled a single down the line in the left field, stole second base and scored on an error.

Crescenta Valley waltzed in front 5-0 with a run in the sixth as Dee Dee Hernandez’s two-out grounder brought home Wichman, who was safe on an infield hit.

Burbank Softball Loses Tough One To Visiting Arcadia 7-5

By Rick Assad

 

Playing shorthanded is a tough way to operate, but the Burbank High softball team had to against Arcadia on Monday afternoon.

Even so, the Bulldogs found enough intestinal fortitude to rally from four runs down in the sixth inning, but then gave up two runs in the seventh inning and lost 7-5 in a Pacific League contest at McCambridge Park.

Alyssa Porras went seven innings and took the 7-5 loss. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank managed four hits off sophomore Sophia Garzona, who went seven innings, striking out six and walking three.

Senior Alyssa Porras toured seven frames for the Bulldogs, surrendering 11 hits with three strikeouts and two walks with two hit batters.

The Bulldogs (2-4 and 1-1 in league) were without the services of seniors Nikki Davis and Emily Monterrey along with junior Savannah Benson.

It seemed late in the game that Porras may have been tired, but wasn’t taken out by Burbank coach Mike Delaney.

“We thought about it a couple of times. But where they were in the lineup versus what she was doing with those kids, it didn’t ever come up to it at that point,” Delaney said. “She battled. She missed a few spots, but we didn’t help her with our flat-footedness today. We were flat-footed with our defense.”

The Bulldogs cut Arcadia’s lead to 5-4 with a three-run fifth inning as seven batters trotted to the plate.

Base hits were hard to come by for the Bulldogs, who managed four. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

With none out, senior Izzy Sanchez lined a sharp base hit to center field as senior Sarah Garelick, who walked and sophomore Erika Montoya, who collected a single to left field, both scored.

Senior Alex Davis was safe on a fielder’s choice that scored a run as pinch runner, junior Tiffany Estrada, who came in for Porras, drew a walk.

“Our outfield didn’t help us and our hitting didn’t help us,” Delaney pointed out. “We did not hit in key situations. That’s what we’ve been kind of stressing the last couple of games. We’re all trying to hit the ball over the fence. You hit the ball in the air here, it’s just an out.”

The Apaches (9-1-1 and 2-0 in league) bolted ahead 7-5 in the seventh when senior Deja Westbrook drilled a single to left with one out. Westbrook moved to second base on a grounder by senior Helena Simpson.

Burbank’s infield defense was solid against the Apaches. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

A clanging double to left center by freshman Morgan Howey (two hits) scored Westbrook and Howey crossed the plate when senior Karly Gills roped a base hit to center field.

Burbank evened it at 5-5 with a run in the sixth inning as sophomore Lily Stell clubbed a long one-out triple to right center, and Garelick’s grounder drove in the run.

The Apaches opened up a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Simpson’s single up the middle scored sophomore Averi Wong, who singled to left field with one out.

The Bulldogs tied it at 1-1 in the first inning when Davis led off with a booming triple to right center and crossed the plate on a sacrifice bunt from senior Amaya Broyls.

“I think our hitting is what drives us,” Broyls said. “When we’re hitting line drives in the gap, and when we’re getting good hits off her, it gives us a lot momentum and that’s what helps us.”

Broyls then added: It’s been hard with all the rain and we’ve been trying to practice and some girls have been hurt,” she said. “Being a catcher. Being a senior. Being a captain. There’s a lot of pressure and I feel like I need to lead the team along with the other captains. We have the younger players. We all need to step up and do our job.”

A two-run third inning by Arcadia made it 3-1 as Westbrook lined an inside-the-park homer to center field that plated Wong, who was safe on a force out.

The Apaches’ advantage became 5-1 in the fifth inning when Wong’s triple to right center knocked home sophomore Delaney Prater (two hits), who doubled to left center and Westbrook’s grounder scored Wong.

Burroughs, Burbank Softball Primed For Something Special

By Rick Assad

 

Because of the talent available, it would seem that if the Burbank High and Burroughs softball teams don’t qualify for the CIF Southern Section playoffs, its respective seasons will not be considered very successful.

Burbank is coming off a campaign in which it went 16-12 overall and 10-4 for third place in the Pacific League.

It’s all for one and one for all as the Bulldogs ready for the Pacific League season. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Bulldogs played in a Division IV wild-card match against Norwalk and fell 4-2.

Burroughs went 14-5-1 and 12-2 for second in league and after defeating Bonita 2-0 in a Division III opening-round game, lost to Redlands 4-0 in the second round.

“I believe that we’ll do fairly well this year,” Burroughs coach Wes Tanigawa said. “I brought up a few new girls from the JV. Overall we should be pretty successful, but softball is the way it is and you never know how the ball is going to go.”

The Indians are gunning for another CIF Southern Section playoff appearance. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Tanigawa is optimistic about this squad.

“These girls that we have are a really good core group. They work together. They pick each other up,” he noted.

Tanigawa also likes that the team doesn’t rely on one aspect of the game.

“I don’t really necessarily see one thing as our strength,” he pointed out. “We’ve lost our star pitcher [Presley Miraglia]. We have pitching. I’ve got a freshman who is looking really good. I brought up a few girls with hopefully a couple of bats.”

To date, Burroughs lost to Newbury Park 8-0 in the Suzanne Manlet Tournament and collected a 3-2 victory over San Fernando in the same tourney.

The Indians begin league play on March 5 when Pasadena makes a visit and will host Burbank on March 29 and travel to the Bulldogs on April 25.

Beside Miraglia, other key performers that graduated includes outfielder Hannah Talavera and second baseman Nikki Ricciardella.

The most valued commodity is always pitching and the Bulldogs, who lost Allie Benson to graduation, have a good one in senior Alyssa Porras.

Infield play is always vital, so the Bulldogs practice being perfect. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Mike Delaney, the Burbank coach, thinks this should be a productive season.

“If we play to our ability, and we have some kids that step up, we can compete with anybody,” h said. “Our kids don’t shy away from competing with anybody. We play a tough tournament schedule because it helps us in league. CV is probably the team to beat this year.”

Like Tanigawa, Delaney is also optimistic.

“If we play the way we can, we’re a top three team for sure,” he said. “If we play even better than that, we can be a top two. I’m not discounting this team from anything.”

Burbank has lost to Louisville 6-4 in the Hart Tournament and fell to Calabasas 6-4 in the same tourney. The Bulldogs commence league action on March 5 when they host Glendale.

Backing up Porras, who worked many innings in 2018, and will be asked to toe the rubber for 200 innings this season, will be junior Savannah Benson, Allie’s younger sister.

Chloe Bookmyer will be asked to be a team leader for the Indians. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

A key member will be senior Alex Davis, who will be the primary shortstop.

Senior Amaya Broyls, a member of the volleyball team, will see the majority of the time behind the plate for Burbank, which lost to graduation first baseman Erin Lashkari, infielder/outfielder Anysia Gonzalez and outfielder/second baseman Macie Jensen.

Senior Nikki Davis and senior Carly Oldfield will battle for first base.

Senior Desiree Gomez is the primary third baseman and will relieve Broyls on occasion as the catcher.

Sophomore Erika Montoya, who played on the basketball team, will play second base.

Burbank is aiming for the top spot in the Pacific League after finishing third last season. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burbank’s outfield will include senior Sarah Garelick in left field, senior Izzy Sanchez in right field and sophomore Victoria Sanchez in center field.

The rest of the team includes senior Emily Monterrey, who also played on the basketball team, will play at first and third base and act as the designated player.

Senior Siena Fagiani will be used in a utility role and designated player, while freshman Bella Scozzola will play first base, third base and the outfield.

Junior Tiffany Estrada will see time in the outfield and be used as a utility player. Junior Jordyn Rivero will play in the outfield, utility and designated player, and freshman Elizabeth Zamora will play in the outfield, designated player and utility.

The Indians go over infield practice knowing its value. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Indians have four starting pitchers and they will need to at least come close to what Miraglia, a member of the Long Beach State women’s softball team, accomplished in her stellar career.

The two with the most experience in the circle are junior Sidnie Dabaddie and junior Isabella Kam.

The other two hurlers are sophomore Dyani Del Castillo, who played on the basketball team and freshman Kelsey Acosta.

The catching chore will fall upon the dependable shoulders of senior Megan Williams.

The projected infield for Burroughs will have senior Sierra Harvey at first base, senior Morgan Mersola at second base, sophomore Alyssa Valenzuela at shortstop and junior Memorie Munoz at third base.

The Indians’ outfield will consist of senior Hannah Skinner in left field, senior Mia Storer in center field and junior Chloe Bookmyer, the league’s Most Valuable Player Hitter, in right field.

The rest of the lineup will have senior Jillian Kukawski, also a member of the basketball team at third base, senior Lauryn Valenzuela at shortstop, senior Citlali Mendez at shortstop, junior Sami Fiorella in the infield and catcher and sophomore Kaitlyn Cisneros in the infield and utility.

Burroughs Softball Loses 4-0 Decision In CIF Second Round

By Rick Assad

 

On three occasions, the Burroughs High softball team collected two hits in an inning against Redlands East Valley, but failed to score each time.

In part, this was its undoing as the Wildcats tamed the Indians 4-0 in a CIF Southern Section Division III second-round playoff game at Olive Park on Tuesday.

Burroughs was outhit 10-8 by Redlands East Valley, who often looked to hit the first pitch from senior pitcher Presley Miraglia, but timely hits by the Indians would have likely scored runs.

The Indians collected eight hits but no runs in a CIF second-round playoff loss to Redlands East Valley. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“We missed some key plays,” Burroughs coach Wes Tanigawa said. “We missed bunts we couldn’t get down. If you make mistakes, you’ll get cancelled out. Our key hitters couldn’t get key hits and that put us in a bind.”

In the third inning, after junior Megan Williams struck out, sophomore Memorie Munoz singled to center field and junior Kaitlin Escamilla was safe on a force out.

Senior Hannah Talavera, who will attend Channel Islands College and perhaps play softball, blooped a base hit to right field, but sophomore Chloe Bookmyer grounded out to third base.

“I had an amazing career. It was an amazing journey. Sophomore year was my favorite,” Talavera said. “I love my teammates. We’ve always had a great time. This is a good team to end it with.”

Talavera then looked at the game. “It was a total team loss. All of us couldn’t produce as a team,” she noted. “There were hits made. There were catches not made. As a team, we were off.”

The Indians (14-5-1) once again had two runners on base via hits in the fourth inning. Miraglia led off by grounding out to shortstop, but junior Mia Storer, who is fast on her feet, was safe on an infield single.

Presley Miraglia ended her four-year stint with a 4-0 setback. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

On the play, the shortstop’s throw slipped slightly past the first baseman, and Storer made a move to run to second base and was subsequently tagged out.

Senior Jessica Amaya rifled a hit to left field, but senior Nikki Ricciardella, who will study at the University of Arizona, grounded out to shortstop.

In the sixth inning, after Talavera grounded out to shortstop, Bookmyer singled to right field, but was erased when Miraglia, who will play at Cal State Long Beach on a softball scholarship, bounced into a force out.

Junior Hannah Skinner came in as a pinch runner and moved to third base on junior Sierra Harvey’s single to right center.

Amaya, who will attend either Cal State Long Beach and not play softball or Mission College, where she will play, struck out to end the threat.

In the seventh, sophomore Isabella Kam opened up the frame with an infield single for the Indians, but was erased after being caught in a run down.

Senior Eva Harvey, who went the distance for the Wildcats while striking out nine, fanned sophomore pinch hitter Sami Fiorella and junior pinch hitter, senior Kaylee Vigil, who will attend Northern Arizona, to end the game.

The Wildcats struck in the first frame against Miraglia, who ended her highly decorated four-year pitching career.

Sophomore Kailie McKee singled to left field with one out and Harvey’s two-out double to left field made it 1-0.

“That’s one of our things that we started from the time we got going,” Redlands East Valley coach Debbie Garcia said. “Aggressive and attack. When you attack, you select the pitches.”

Amaya White steals third base in the second inning while Memorie Munoz waits for the ball. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

In the fifth, Redlands East Valley (22-7) sent seven batters to the plate that included a run-scoring triple to left field by McKee that plated junior Autumn Bennett (three hits), who was safe on a one-out single to right.

Redlands East Valley’s advantage swelled to 3-0 in the same stanza on a run-tallying hit by Harvey as McKee scored.

The Wildcats tacked on an insurance run in the seventh as Miraglia yielded three hits including a run-producing single to left field by senior Shelby Arbeiter as Bennett, who led off with a single up the middle, scored to make it 4-0.

Miraglia, who retired the side in order only once, in the sixth inning, escaped trouble in the second when sophomore Amaya White led off and reached on an error.

“I see a lot of improvement. I’m not dissatisfied. I look back and I’m thankful,” said Miraglia, who struck out five with one hit batter over seven innings.

Miraglia then added: “This game, we had a lot more errors than normal. I think I probably could have pitched off the plate a little more, but I was trying to get the out and it worked a majority of the time,” she pointed out.

White then stole second and third base as the Wildcats finished with four stolen bases, but was stranded when Miraglia induced freshman MacKenzie San Pedro to pop up and then struck out junior Samantha Carson and senior Julia Salomon.

In the third inning, Bennett led off with a single to left field and McKee’s sacrifice bunt moved Bennett to second base. Arbeiter popped up to Miraglia and Harvey grounded out to close the threat.

Junior Madison Ferro (two hits) doubled down the left-field line to start the fourth inning, but White bounced back to Miraglia, while San Pedro struck out swinging and Carson flied out to right.

Burbank Softball Held In Check 4-2 By Norwalk In CIF Wild-Card Match

By Rick Assad

 

Facing probably the best pitcher this season, the Burbank High softball team would have to be picture perfect.

Daunting as this challenge was, there wasn’t a lack of confidence, but this only goes so far.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Bulldogs were put in a stranglehold by Norwalk senior hurler Breanna Vasquez, who held Burbank to three hits, striking out a season-best 16 batters with one walk and one hit batter over seven innings en route to a 4-2 win at McCambridge Park in a CIF Southern Section Division IV wild-card game.

The Lancers (11-10) did all their scoring in the first inning off junior Alyssa Porras, who gave up an infield single to Vasquez, the leadoff hitter.

Alyssa Porras allowed four runs in the first inning in a CIF wild-card loss to visiting Norwalk. Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

When sophomore Brianna Nunez (two hits) clubbed a run-scoring double down the left-field line, Vasquez scored.

Senior Samantha Campos was hit by a pitch and freshman Estefania Perez was safe on the first of two errors in the frame.

Sophomore Angelina Perez hit back to the box and was retired at first base and sophomore Destanie Cervantes (two hits) popped up for the second out.

Junior Destiny Ochoa made it to first base on an error, but was out at second base for the third out.

“When we get down that quickly and by that much in the game, it’s really hard to get back up and start getting that energy to score more,” said Porras, who went seven innings, yielding five hits with two strikeouts and one walk. “At the end we did, but not that much.”

Porras said the team felt good coming into the game. “I think we were thinking about winning,” she said. “But it was harder to focus today because we really wanted to be in the playoffs and we had a really good season.”

Fleet-footed center fielder Alex Davis made a spectacular play in the third inning. Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

The Bulldogs (16-12) shaved the advantage to 4-1 with a run in the fifth inning as junior Sarah Garelick was nicked by an offering from Vasquez with one out.

Senior Bene Snyder’s grounder moved Garelick to second base and Garelick later scored on an error.

Burbank’s second run came in the seventh when junior Desi Gomez laced a one-out single to right field which prompted junior Carly Oldfield to enter as a pinch runner.

After senior Erin Lashkari fanned for the second out, Snyder ripped a base hit up the middle as Oldfield crossed the plate that made it a two-run deficit.

Sophomore Katie Treadway then fanned to end the game and the season for the Bulldogs.

“We just didn’t come out in that first inning, because like I told the team, the first inning is just as important as the seventh inning,” Burbank coach Mike Delaney said.

Still Delaney was pleased with the effort despite the setback. “About two years ago we started implementing a team-first mentality,” he said. “It took hold this year and our seniors did a phenomenal job of instilling this to our underclassmen. Overall it’s the way we played ball. We never gave up. We got two outs and we’re battling.”

Senior third baseman Bene Snyder shows off her throwing arm in a wild-card match against the Lancers. Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Delaney then added: “I think the girls understand what it takes to be successful. I think for us as a program we’ve got to stop looking at beating Burroughs as our championship,” he said. “It’s just an emotional game. How do we move on with a win or loss to Burroughs?”

Vasquez was in charge from the outset.

“The first couple innings I was feeling really confident. The last couple of innings I was a little nervous, but my team has my back,” said Vasquez, who will play softball at Central Florida.

There was tension in the seventh inning because the Bulldogs had runners on first and second base.

“I was thinking I didn’t want any more people to advance,” Vasquez said. “So I wanted to take it pitch by pitch and make sure I got ahead of the batters and got the strikes in.”

Vasquez came out gunning in the opening stanza as she struck out senior Macie Jensen and junior Amaya Broyls.

Vasquez then surrendered an opposite field triple to right by junior Alex Davis, but fanned senior Anysia Gonzalez.

Vasquez worked a perfect second frame after striking out Gomez and Lashkari and getting Garelick to line out to second base.

The third inning was another 1-2-3 affair for Vasquez as Snyder, Treadway and Jensen all fanned.

Vasquez struck out the side in the fourth as Broyls was retired catcher to first base, Davis looking and Gomez swinging, but issued her only walk to Gonzalez, the third hitter of the inning.

Another perfect inning came in the sixth for Vasquez, who induced Jensen and Broyls to ground out to third base and Davis to fly out to center field.

Burbank Softball Rallies For 4-3 Win Over Host Burroughs

By Rick Assad

 

A two-run first inning by the Burroughs High softball team was met with full backing by the home crowd at Olive Park on Thursday night.

Slowly but surely, Burbank chipped away at the lead, eventually evened it and in the top of the eighth scored the go-ahead and winning run as the Bulldogs earned a 4-3 victory in the Pacific League regular-season finale.

Alex Davis led off the frame with a single to right field. Up stepped senior Anysia Gonzalez, who dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt that advanced Davis to second base.

But the bunt hit the ground hard and caromed high into the air. Seeing this, the very speedy Davis pulled into third base.

Hannah Talavera’s two-run homer came in the first inning, but the Indians lost 4-3 to the Bulldogs. Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Junior Desi Gomez, who singled up the middle with one out in the second, was the next batter and promptly grounded to second base which plated Davis to make it 4-3.

“I’m just lucky that I did this today,” said Davis, a junior of the winning run. “I noticed that they weren’t covering third and I wanted to take advantage of the mistakes and it ended up working.”

In the home half of the inning and facing junior Alyssa Porras, who surrendered 11 hits with a hit batter and two strikeouts across eight frames, senior Nikki Ricciardella popped up to shortstop.

Sophomore Memorie Munoz struck out looking, but junior Kaitlin Escamilla was safe on an error.

When senior Hannah Talavera fouled out to shortstop behind the third base bag, the game and victory was sealed.

Burbank third baseman Bene Snyder gets the ball over to first base. Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Burroughs threatened to win it in the seventh inning when sophomore Chloe Bookmyer and senior Presley Miraglia each singled with one out.

But senior Jessica Amaya and junior Megan Williams each popped up to shortstop.

The Indians (13-4-1 and 12-2 for second place in league) sprinted to a 2-0 lead in the opening frame when Escamilla reached on an infield single.

Talavera then found a pitch she could handle and lined it down the left-field line and was able to circle the bases and touch home plate.

Junior Mia Storer blooped a base hit to left field. Bookmyer (three hits) also reach base on a bloop single to center field.

Miraglia lined to center field, Amaya was safe on a force out and Williams popped up to shortstop.

Burroughs senior Presley Miraglia took the 4-3 loss to Burbank. Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Burroughs made it 3-0 with a tally in the fourth as Munoz singled up the middle with one out.

Escamilla then bounced back to Porras as Munoz went to second base.

A wild pitch saw Munoz advance to third base and when Talavera was safe on an error, Munoz scored.

“We just couldn’t come out and pull the trigger,” Burroughs coach Wes Tanigawa said. “We just didn’t do what we needed to do. We had hits early. I don’t know if they got overconfident. Or that Presley was going to shut them down.”

The Bulldogs (16-11 and 10-4 for third place in league) sliced the lead to one run with a two-run fifth as senior Macie Jensen clubbed a two-out, two-run homer that found the right center field gap.

“We’re hitting. Something’s going to fall,” Burbank coach Mike Delaney said. “The way we’re hitting, it’s just a matter of time. It’s a good win going in to [the CIF playoffs]. To keep their focus is just phenomenal.”

The Bulldogs managed only six hits off Miraglia, but scored four runs. Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Burbank evened it at 3-3 with a run in the sixth as Gonzalez (two hits) bashed a one-out triple to center field.

Delaney was extremely pleased with the quick-thinking Davis.

“We’ve been practicing that over the last few weeks,” Delaney noted of the intelligent base running of Davis. “Just working on being aggressive on the bases. It’s available once a game. It’s just a straight read on her part.”

Gomez then bunted back to Miraglia, and was safe on a fielder’s choice, but when she flipped the ball a little too high for Williams, the catcher, to handle, Gonzalez found the plate and it was level at 3-3.

Miraglia pitched well enough, but was loser after toiling eight innings, allowing six hits with three strikeouts.

The Indians could have scored in the second inning, but didn’t as Munoz was hit by a pitch with one out and moved to second base and third base on an error.

Munoz remained there as Talavera popped up to shortstop and Storer lined out to center field.

In the third, Bookmyer led off with a single to left field and Miraglia (three hits) singled to right field, but Amaya bounced into a double play and Williams lined to third base.

In the fifth, Miraglia singled up the middle with one out and junior pinch runner Hannah Skinner went to second base on an error and third base on an infield single by Williams.

When Ricciardella hit into a double play, the inning and threat came to a conclusion.

Junior Amaya Broyls led off the fourth inning for the Bulldogs with a single, and moved to second base on Gonzalez’s one-out base hit.

Neither scored as Davis and Gomez fanned and senior Erin Lashkari flied out to right field.