Tag Archives: Softball

Former Burbank High Standout Brooks Shines At Notre Dame

By Rick Assad


Caitlyn Brooks is one of the most decorated athletes in Burbank High history, so it came as no surprise when the three-time All-CIF first-team pitcher received a scholarship from the University of Notre Dame.

During her four years playing prep softball, Brooks ended her career with an 80-17 won-loss record along with 1,011 strikeouts.

In terms of Brooks’ most dominant season, it was likely her sophomore campaign in which she fanned 309, went 25-3 with an 0.78 earned-run average.

Eye-popping numbers, for sure, but was the jump to Notre Dame seamless?

“The transition from high school to college was not bad,” said Brooks, who batted .304, smashed eight homers, with a .388 on-base percentage, a .506 slugging percentage, 39 runs batted in and 24 runs scored and was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Tournament team in 2017. “Softball wise, it was very smooth since it is a game that I have played since I was 5. However, academically Notre Dame has been more of a challenge, but one that is manageable.”

Caitlyn Brooks up looks up after hitting the ball. (Photo courtesy Notre Dame sports information).

Being on the South Bend campus offers challenges and also rewards. Are there added expectations?

“I definitely feel pressure to perform, but it is the same pressure I have dealt with since I was little,” said Brooks, a sophomore who plays first base, right field and pitches. “Due to the competition being so strong, I do feel that it is a little harder to excel at the college level, but the pressure is the same, it just depends on if I am going to let it get to me or not.”

Brooks, who batted .335 with a .416 on-base percentage and led the Fighting Irish with a .639 slugging percentage and 11 homers with 55 RBIs, the most-ever for a first-year Notre Dame player, and 28 runs tallied, went on: “I try not to think about the pressure and just focus on one pitch at a time, and like I said before, I have been playing this game since I was young and it’s the same game.”

Former Burbank High pitcher Caitlyn Brooks is also seeing time in the circle for Notre Dame. (Photo courtesy Notre Dame sports information).

Notre Dame finished this season 34-23 and 13-11 in the ACC after going 43-13 and 13-7 in 2016.

Deanna Gumpf is Notre Dame’s coach and feels that Brooks is going to get even better with time.

“She has become more of a leader for our team,” she said. “You become more comfortable in that leadership role, which will be a huge asset for us in her upcoming season.”

Does Brooks think she’s made strides since her freshman season?

“My past two years have been great, but the main difference between the two is maturity and knowing what to expect,” she said. “Freshman year I didn’t know how things ran from a strength and condition standpoint to the season and the academic.

“This past year I knew what to expect in the weight room, on the field and in the classroom. From my first year, this experience I have now is what helped me mature in all of these aspects,” she said.

How does Brooks, a film, television and theatre major with a focus on television, relax prior to taking the field?

Notre Dame’s starting pitcher/relief pitcher Caitlyn Brooks (16) celebrates her home run with her teammates during the quarterfinals of the 2017 ACC Softball Championship in Chapel Hill, N.C., Thursday, May 11, 2017. (Photo by Sara D. Davis, the ACC.com)

“Before a game I just hang out with my team or listen to music,” she said. “I don’t really get nervous, but listening to music helps me get in the zone, ready to play.”

Brooks said her team has made it so much easier for her.

“My support group is my teammates, especially the girls in my class,” she said. “We all get along great and are always there for each other, which is very helpful. We can always lean on each other when we need it.”

How does Brooks, who went 5-4 in eight starts with a 4.22 ERA across 61 and one-third innings in 2017, retain a fresh outlook?

“Success is what keeps the game fun,” she noted. “We all love to win and crave success on the field, so when we succeed, that is what I live for on the field, and even when we fail, that feeling to succeed still burns within and makes us want to grow and get better.”

Brooks added: “My teammates make softball fun. Every year we lose a couple of girls and gain more which is awesome, because we get to play alongside the best girls in the country and I love being around them. They make what we do on and off the field fun.”

Because Notre Dame is nationally recognized, the Fighting Irish have been on television a number of times. Does Brooks notice the cameras?

“I don’t really know when I am on television or when our games are televised compared to when they’re not,” she said. “I usually get a text from family saying that they watched the game. That’s the only way I pay attention to it, if I was on TV or not.

“Sometimes we notice the cameras when they interview our coach and we try to get on TV and joke around in the back, but other than that we are pretty focused on the game and don’t see the cameras,” she said.

Caitlyn Brooks waits patiently in the batter’s box. (Photo courtesy Notre Dame sports information).

Gumpf really likes that Brooks is able to play multiple positions. “She’s versatile and wants to do anything she can for her team,” she said. “Cait is a competitor and focused, but also loves to have fun.”

Brooks said she still keeps in contact with Mike Delaney, her high school coach.

“He is a great guy,” she said. “We usually try to catch up when I am home. I loved playing for him in high school, so it’s nice to catch up every now and then.”

What did Brooks learn from Delaney? “High school definitely helped me these past two years in the sense that I am with the same people for four years and the camaraderie with your teammates on the field is crucial,” she said. “We fail together and succeed together, and that mind-set for me was formed in high school and I have carried it here with my team.”

Delaney said he expected Brooks to do well in college. “I had her during her junior and senior seasons and you could tell right away she was a different type of high school athlete,” he said. “She continued to work hard and has a great work ethic.”

“I always knew she was going to have success at the plate. She has a really nice swing, but she was going to have to make an adjustment when pitching,” Delaney said. “In high school there might be five or six good hitters. In college, they’re all good.”

Burroughs Softball Blanks Burbank 6-0 For Share Of Third Straight League Title

By Rick Assad


There was much riding on the outcome of Thursday night’s Pacific League softball clash between Burroughs High and Burbank at McCambridge Park.

A win by the Indians would assure them of a first-place tie with Crescenta Valley, and a victory by the Bulldogs would give them fourth place, one game ahead of Glendale and a CIF Southern Section playoff berth.

Some members of the Burroughs softball team gather after beating rival Burbank and winning a third consecutive Pacific League banner. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

In the end, junior Presley Miraglia was simply too good and in control, striking out 11 and yielding four hits in a 6-0 complete-game shutout in the regular-season finale as the Indians secured a share of a third straight league title.

“Any time we go into a game, we feel good,” first-year Burroughs coach Wes Tanigawa said. “The way they were focused and settled down, I felt good.”

The Indians (19-8 and 12-2 in league) scurried in front 1-0 in the fourth inning against sophomore Alyssa Porras and added five more runs in the sixth.

The initial tally started when Miraglia (three singles) reached base on an error. Sophomore Citlali Mendez then came in to pinch run and moved to second base on sophomore Mia Storer’s infield hit.

Junior pitcher Presley Miraglia, shown in a recent game, allowed four hits with 11 strikeouts in a 6-0 win over the Bulldogs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Mendez took third base on junior Jessica Amaya’s sacrifice bunt and crossed the plate on junior Nikki Ricciardella’s perfect sacrifice squeeze bunt.

Burbank (12-14 and 8-6 in league) fell behind 6-0 after the five-run explosion that began with a base hit by Miraglia to left field. Once again, Mendez ran for her.

Junior hurler Allie Benson replaced Porras and faced Storer, who was safe on an error.

Pinch hitter Kaitlin Escamilla, a sophomore, drew a walk to load the bases and Ricciardella was hit by a pitch which forced in a run.

The key blow was delivered by senior Amanda Flores (two hits), who clubbed a two-run double to right center.

Porras re-entered and allowed an infield single to pinch hitter, sophomore Morgan Mersola, that scored a run and two batters later, senior Lauren Lopez added a run-scoring single to right field.

“It got away from us,” Burbank coach Mike Delaney said. “We simply made too many key mistakes.”

Miraglia worked a perfect first and fanned all three batters before allowing a one-out single in the second inning to right center by junior Erin Lashkari, who went to second base on sophomore Sarah Garelick’s sacrifice bunt.

But Miraglia then collected herself and struck out junior Macie Jensen swinging.

Miraglia then fashioned a 1-2-3 third and fourth inning, striking out freshman Katie Treadway in the third and fanning junior Anysia Gonzalez in the fourth.

“My pitching coach worked with me to get my pitches down,” Miraglia said. “I needed to fix my level of pitches. I knew what I had to do.”

Delaney admitted that Miraglia was throwing hard and also keeping the ball down, but said they were perhaps too anxious. “We didn’t decide what part of the plate to swing at,” he pointed out.

Miraglia retired Lashkari to open the fifth inning on a liner to center field and then struck out Garelick looking.

Jensen reached first on a miscue and then stole second, however, Miraglia settled down and induced junior Bene Snyder to line out to first base.

Miraglia began the sixth inning by fanning senior pinch hitter Alyssa De La Torre, but surrendered an infield single to sophomore Alex Davis.

Miraglia whiffed sophomore Amaya Broyls, but allowed a single to left by junior Melissa Daniel, only to strike out Gonzalez swinging.

Miraglia induced Lashkari to ground out to begin the seventh, but Garelick laced a single to right center.

Jensen popped up for the second out and Snyder grounded out to seal the victory.

Porras allowed seven hits and struck out two with two walks in seven innings while Benson walked a batter, hit a batter and gave up one hit.

Burbank Softball Falls Behind Early To Crescenta Valley, Loses 8-5

By Rick Assad


For all intents and purposes, two innings doomed the Burbank High softball team when it faced Crescente Valley on Thursday afternoon at McCambridge Park.

Getting the early jump, the Falcons scored three runs in the first and second innings and held on for an 8-5 Pacific League triumph.

“After that we settled down,” Burbank coach Mike Delaney said of the first two frames. “They put pressure on you and we didn’t handle that pressure very well.”

Alex Davis had a double in the first inning of an 8-5 loss to Crescenta Valley, but didn’t score. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Eight batters trotted to the plate in the opening stanza against sophomore Alyssa Porras, who went one and two-third innings initially, two and two-third overall, walking five with six hits allowed.

Five of the first six batters were safe including a bases-loaded walk to sophomore Viviana Bocanegra that forced in senior Jessica Yzaguirre (four hits), who led off with an infield single.

Sophomore Ryan Eldred (three singles) later added a two-run smash to right field that brought home sophomore Alyssa Hernandez, who walked and freshman Maddie De Leon (three hits), who drilled a single up the middle.

Crescenta Valley’s cushion was extended to 6-0 in the second inning when nine hitters marched to the dish.

Allie Benson entered as a reliever and held her own over four and one-third innings. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

De Leon’s two-out booming triple to left center scored Yzaguirre, who was safe on an infield single and Hernandez, who walked.

It became 6-0 on a bloop single to right center by Bocanegra off junior Allie Benson, who went four and one-third innings, walking six, with three hit batters, six hits surrendered and one strikeout, that brought in De Leon.

“Our pitchers were not hitting their spots,” Delaney said of his duo that combined to allow 11 walks and 12 hits with three hit batters.

Burbank (11-13 and 7-5 in league) cut the lead to 6-1 in the bottom of the second when junior Bene Snyder (two hits) had an infield single off junior Emily Mulcahey (seven innings while scattering 12 hits, walking two, with four strikeouts and one hit batter) that drove in junior Macie Jensen, who walked.

Melissa Daniel slides into third base during a two-run third inning versus the Falcons. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Bulldogs chipped away and made it a three-run deficit with a two-run third inning as sophomore Sarah Garelick (two hits) rifled a single to center field that knocked in junior Melissa Daniel, who led off with a walk and junior Anysia Gonzalez, who reached base on an infield single.

“We’re a confident offensive team,” Delaney noted. “We don’t fear too many pitchers. But we had three strikeouts in critical situations.”

Burbank trimmed Crescenta Valley’s lead to 6-4 with a tally in the fourth inning when Daniel’s double to left field plated sophomore Amaya Broyls, who singled to center.

A two-run frame in the sixth by the Falcons (18-7-1 and 10-2 in league) pushed the lead to 8-4 as Eldred led off with a single to right center and later came around on an error while sophomore Peyton Hause’s run-scoring hit to center scored sophomore Kristy Taix, who laid down a sacrifice bunt and went to second base on an error.

The Bulldogs made it a three-run deficit with a run in the seventh when junior Erin Lashkari clubbed a long leadoff triple to left center and crossed the plate on Jensen’s single to right field.

Burbank sophomore Alex Davis doubled, junior Anysia Gonzalez singled twice and freshman Katie Treadway also singled.

Burroughs Softball Shellacks Host Crescenta Valley, 14-0

By Rick Assad


Hoping to exact some revenge after an earlier one-run setback in eight innings to Crescenta Valley High, the Burroughs softball team did just that by routing the host Falcons 14-0 in a Pacific League match that was halted after six innings on Thursday afternoon.

Presley Miraglia, shown here at home against Crescenta Valley, tossed a one-hitter in a 14-0 win on the road versus the Falcons. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“I absolutely expected a tight game,” first-year Burroughs coach Wes Tanigawa said. “CV’s a team that you can’t count out.”

Why was the outcome different this time than the first meeting in April?

“It was mostly mental,” Tanigawa explained. “The girls had their minds in the right place and when they do, they’re capable of doing this.”

Pitching ace Presley Miraglia allowed one hit and came within two outs of a no-hitter.

“This was probably one of the best games I’ve pitched,” said the junior hurler. “This time we found their weak points and we took advantage of them.”

Miraglia retired the side in order during the first, third and fourth innings and was helped by two nifty defensive efforts from junior second baseman Nikki Ricciardella in the opening frame and the fourth.

Senior shortstop Lauren Lopez also turned in a defensive gem in the sixth inning after Miraglia surrendered a one-out single to center field by senior Jessica Yzaguirre.

Burroughs second baseman Nikki Ricciardella, shown in a recent game, made two sizzling defensive plays behind Miraglia. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The bulk of the scoring came in the fifth and sixth innings as the Indians, who are in a three-way tie for first place in league with the Falcons (16-7-1 and 8-2 in league) and Arcadia, tallied seven and six runs.

Ten entered the batter’s box in the fifth inning and six contributed base hits.

Senior Tatiana Caceres had a run-scoring double to left center, junior Hannah Talavera added a two-run double to right center, while senior Brianna Johnson, the birthday girl, roped a run-scoring double to the gap in left.

Third baseman Brianna Johnson (right), celebrated her birthday with a single, double, was hit by a pitch and added a run batted in. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Sophomore Mia Storer tossed in a run-producing single the opposite way to right,  junior Jessica Amaya had a sacrifice fly and Lopez threw in a single to right field and later scored.

Ricciardella led off and reached base via an error and senior Amanda Flores was also safe on a miscue and both eventually scored.

Junior Emily Mulcahey was tagged with the defeat after surrendering nine hits across five innings, striking out one, walking one and hitting a batter.

Eleven trotted to the plate in the sixth inning for the Indians (15-8 and 8-2 in league) against freshman Maddie De Leon and four were aboard on base hits.

Flores opened with a single to right field, went to second on an error and later scored.

Talavera had a one-out single to left field and also crossed the plate. Storer walked with the bases filled while sophomore pinch hitter Kaitlin Escamilla delivered a run-scoring hit to center field that made it 12-0.

The Indians used a 13-hit attack and tallied 14 runs in a rout of the Falcons. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

When sophomore pinch hitter Morgan Mersola reached on a fielder’s choice, the Indians’ lead swelled to 13-0.

After Flores chipped in with an infield single, the advantage became 14-0.

Burroughs led 1-0 in the fourth inning when Lopez’s hard-hit ball went off the glove of sophomore third baseman Peyton Hause for a single and then took second base on Mulcahey’s wild pitch.

Johnson’s sharp single to left field moved Lopez to third and a single by Miraglia (two hits) to center field produced the game’s first run.

After the lopsided victory, assistant coach Bill Dunaway was handed a store-bought container of cupcakes intended for Johnson and her teammates.

After all it was time to celebrate both a birthday and a job well done on the field.

Burbank Softball Takes Out Rival Burroughs, 5-2

By Rick Assad


From the first inning, it was evident the Burbank High softball team was going to be extremely patient at the plate.

In many at-bats, including a bases-clearing double by junior Melissa Daniel in the sixth inning, the Bulldogs waited for hittable offerings from junior Burroughs ace Presley Miraglia.

Presley Miraglia surrendered six hits in a 5-2 loss to rival Burbank in a Pacific League match at Olive Park. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The result was Burbank’s 5-2 win in a Pacific League game at a jammed-packed Olive Park on Wednesday night, which snapped a three-game losing streak to its city rival.

“When we play like we’re capable of, like we did tonight, we’re a good team,” Burbank coach Mike Delaney said. “The reason we won was because of all 15 girls.”

Burbank’s lead was 2-1 heading into the sixth inning, but the advantage swelled to four runs on Daniel’s deep blast that saw her attempt to stretch the hit into a triple, but was thrown out at third base.

“The moment that I hit that pitch, I knew it was going to score the runners,” said Daniel, who also doubled in the fifth inning. “I’m really proud of this team. Alyssa Porras [winning pitcher] did an amazing job.”

Burroughs second baseman Nikki Ricciardella throws out a runner. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Bulldogs (6-11 and 5-3 in league) struck in the initial frame when junior Anysia Gonzalez, who also singled in the sixth, lined a two-out rocket to left center for a home run.

In the third, the lead swelled to 2-0 when sophomore Amaya Broyls sliced an opposite-field double down the left field line that scored sophomore Sarah Garelick, who was safe on an error.

The Indians (13-8 and 6-2 in league) cut the advantage in half with a run in the fourth as junior Hannah Talavera doubled to left center to lead off the inning.

It was the first hit for Burroughs against Porras, who retired the first nine batters she faced including three on strike outs.

Porras, a sophomore, was highly effective as she toured seven innings, striking out four, allowing seven hits and no walks across seven innings.

The Indians used “small ball” against Burbank pitcher Alyssa Porras. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Senior Lauren Lopez then rifled a base hit to right field as Talavera raced over to third base and scored on Miraglia’s single up the middle.

The Indians came within three runs in the sixth inning as senior Brianna Johnson drew a one-out walk and moved to third base on Miraglia’s double to right field.

The run scored on sophomore Mia Storer’s grounder, but the inning came to an end when senior Amanda Flores lined to Porras.

Sophomore Alex Davis singled in the sixth inning for the Bulldogs, but did not score.

Sophomore Kaitlin Escamilla singled twice for the Indians, and both times failed to cross the plate.

“If the girls don’t have it 100 percent, it could go either way,” Burroughs coach Wes Tanigawa said. “I’m hoping that they’re going to see what happened and not like it.”

Miraglia surrendered six hits and fanned five with one walk over seven innings, but some of her offerings found too much of the plate.

“Presley performs and she performs well,” Tanigawa said. “Sometimes I think that she feels she has to throw perfect pitches. Sometimes I think that she feels an added pressure.”

Burroughs Softball Loses To Crescenta Valley In Eight Innings, 5-4

By Rick Assad


On three occasions, the Burroughs High softball team loaded the bases without scoring and in the eighth inning had the tying run at third base and the winning run at second and also failed to score.

Too many opportunities without locating home plate resulted in a 5-4 setback in eight innings to Crescenta Valley in a Pacific League contest on Tuesday at Olive Park.

Each team entered the fray without a loss in league play, but the Falcons were able to score with timely hitting.

Presley Miraglia took the 5-4 loss against Crescenta Valley after working eight innings. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“They don’t fully understand that when they’re ahead in the count that they need to make something happen,” Burroughs coach Wes Tanigawa said. “They need to seize the moment.”

Tanigawa, the first-year skipper, went on: “We don’t have to hit home runs,” he noted. “Just drop the ball in the holes. That’s all we need to do.”

The Falcons (9-5-1 and 3-0 in league) plated the winning run off junior pitcher Presley Miraglia, who allowed a one-out double to left field by senior Jessica Yzaguirre (four hits including a double) and a two-out, run-producing single to sophomore Viviana Bocanegra.

In the bottom half of the final frame, sophomore Mia Storer collected a base hit to right field and advanced to second base on a wild pitch.

Junior Jessica Amaya (two singles) reached on a fielder’s choice as Storer moved to third base, but senior Amanda Flores fouled out to first base to end the threat.

“With our hitting, sometimes we struggle a lot,” Tanigawa said. “I tell them that they’re softball players. They know what to do.”

The Indians (9-7 and 2-1 in league) fell behind 1-0 in the first inning off Miraglia, who went the distance while allowing seven hits with six strikeouts and no walks.

It’s a close play at second base as Miraglia (#25) watches. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

With one out, Yzaguirre singled to left field and scurried to third base on an error when sophomore Peyton Hause laid down a sacrifice bunt and then scored on Bocanegra’s grounder.

Crescenta Valley’s advantage became 4-0 in the third inning when Yzaguirre delivered a two-run single to center field that scored sophomore Ryan Eldred, who led off with a walk and sophomore Alyssa Hernandez, who doubled to left center.

It became 4-0 on Bocanegra’s base hit to right center as Yzaguirre crossed the plate.

Kaitlin Escamilla camps under a fly ball during Tuesday’s 5-4 Pacific League loss to the Falcons. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Indians finally scored off junior hurler Emily Mulcahey in the third inning when junior Nikki Ricciardella tripled to center field to lead off the frame and came around on a grounder from sophomore Kaitlin Escamilla.

Junior Hannah Talavera also singled to left field, took second base on a base hit from senior Lauren Lopez and moved to third when senior Brianna Johnson was hit by a pitch.

However, Miraglia then bounced into a force out and Storer flied out to center field.

Mulcahey also went eight innings, surrendering 10 hits with four strikeouts and three walks along with five hit batters.

Burroughs sent seven batters to the plate in the sixth inning and cut the lead to 4-2 as Lopez’s single to left field drove in Escamilla, who doubled to left field with one out and then stole third base.

A two-run seventh inning pushed the match into extra innings as Talavera’s double to left field scored Ricciardella, who reached on a force out and Escamilla, who was safe on an infield hit.

Miraglia worked a perfect second, fourth, sixth and seventh inning and had a stretch where she retired nine straight batters until Yzaguirre’s double to left in the eighth inning.

“Sometimes I think that she feels the pressure of having to win the game all by herself,” Tanigawa said of his ace hurler. “She doesn’t, but I think that she feels that she does.”

Burroughs, Burbank Softball Campaign Is Underway

By Rick Assad


Like its counterpart baseball, pitching is worth at least 75 percent in softball and if it’s true, then Burroughs High and Burbank are on solid footing in Presley Miraglia and Allie Benson.

How these two junior hurlers perform in the circle will dictate the Indians and Bulldogs overall success.

The Burroughs High softball team is ready for another run at the Pacific League banner. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

This is especially true when it comes down to who will be dominant in the Pacific League.

There is one change and that is the departure of Burroughs coach Doug Nicol, who was highly successful.

The new man in charge of the Indians’ program is Wes Tanigawa, and his expectations are the same as Nicol’s.

“No one ever knows what you’re stepping into,” Tanigawa said of being the head man. “There’s a lot of work. But Doug has been there for me and that’s really helped me make the transition.”

Burbank High’s softball team huddles with Coach Mike Delaney in a recent practice. The Bulldogs are also eyeing the Pacific League title. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Tanigawa said he wants to put a good product on the field.

“I’m hoping the girls are doing what they need to do in order to keep doing what they did last season. If they do, then we’ll be all right.”

So far this season, the Indians are 4-1 and begin the league campaign on March 28 at Pasadena.

Burroughs will host archrival Burbank on April 19 and visit the Bulldogs on May 11.

In 2016, the Indians went undefeated in league action at 14-0, were 21-4 overall and advanced to the CIF Southern Section semifinals.

Miraglia, who posted an earned-run average of 1.41, was in the middle of this and the right-hander will be the focal point again.

“Presley was always willing to step up to the plate and give it her all,” Tanigawa said. “She’s been in the program now for three years and she works extra hard.”

The Indians are working on their infield drills which are always critical to any success. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Tanigawa continued: “Presley is a very talented pitcher and knows that she has a lot on her shoulders.”

Miraglia is backed up by junior Mia Storer, who saw some time in the circle last season.

The Indians’ infield includes junior Amanda Flores at first base, junior Nikki Ricciardella at second base, senior Lauren Lopez at shortstop, senior Brianna Johnson at third base and the tandem of sophomore Megan Williams and junior Kaylee Vigil at catcher.

Sophomore Jessica Amaya will patrol left field, junior Hannah Talavera is the center fielder and senior Tati Caceres will play right field.

The Bulldogs are likewise also working on infield play. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The reserves will be freshman third baseman Memorie Munoz, sophomore Kaitlin Escamilla in left field, sophomore Morgan Mersola at second base, sophomore Citlali Mendez at shortstop, senior Makena Savola at first base, and freshman Chloe Bookmyer in right field.

Meanwhile, for Burbank, this season is an opportunity to redeem itself from the previous campaign in which it went 11-17 and 8-6 in league with an opening-round loss to Paramount in the playoffs.

Outfield defense is often overlooked, but Burroughs makes sure everything is in order. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Longtime Coach Mike Delaney is optimistic despite starting the campaign winless in four games.

The Bulldogs commence league action on March 28 against visiting Glendale.

“Overall, we’re better than we were last year,” he said. “The hitting is stronger, one through nine. They have a plan at the plate. This is a more mature and experienced team.”

The league race is going to be a battle. “It’s competitive as always,” Delaney said. “Burroughs is always tough to beat and Crescenta Valley seems to play well under [Coach] Amanda Peek.”

Delaney said the team gets along, and that’s going to help. “I don’t mind being the underdog,” he said. “You play freer. They’re really close-knit with good chemistry.”

Much is expected of the right-handed Benson, who went 7-7 in 2016. Benson is going to be backed up by sophomore Alex Davis and freshman Savannah Davis.

“Allie is a lot more confident this season,” said Delaney of his ace. “She has a game-plan and she worked hard in the off-season. She’s made really good progress.”

The old saying that practice makes perfect isn’t lost on the Bulldogs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Sophomore Amaya Broyls is the primary catcher while senior Alyssa De La Torre and sophomore Nikki Davis will also see time behind the plate.

“Amaya can play all eight positions except pitcher,” Delaney noted of his young backstop.

Burbank’s infield consists of juniors Erin Lashkari and Melissa Daniel at first base, junior Macie Jensen at second base, freshman Katie Treadway at shortstop and junior Bene Snyder at third base.

“Melissa has good power and is good defensively,” Delaney said. “Macie, who batted .310, will fill in the power spots in the batting order [3-5], and I’m happy with her defense.”

Delaney added: “Katie is only a freshman and she learned a lot over the fall. She has great speed and range,” he said. “Bene understands her swing.”

The Bulldogs’ outfield will have Alex Davis in center field, junior Anysia Gonzalez in right field and sophomore Sarah Garelick in left field.

Delaney had glowing remarks about his outfield. “I’m happy with her game,” he said of Davis. “”She’s a good base runner and she’s going to have a breakout year.”

Delaney added: “There aren’t enough positive things you can say about Anysia,” he said. “She’s a really good defender and Sarah is very intelligent.”

Okimoto Showed The Way For Burroughs Softball Team

By Rick Assad


Whether Kaitlin Okimoto was toiling at shortstop or in the batter’s box hitting line drives, the senior was invariably in the middle of helping her team win.

Okimoto’s over-the-top talent was never more obvious than during this past season when the Burroughs High softball team reached the CIF Southern Section Division III semifinals.

A four-year varsity starter and one of the team leaders, Okimoto was a key clog that helped the Indians make the postseason every year.

Okimoto finished her highly-decorated career batting .444 with 106 runs batted in, 10 homers, 31 doubles, 13 triples with 104 runs scored and a .487 on-base percentage.

This current run and quarterfinal match versus Norwalk was something truly special and unforgettable.

JBHS Softball vs Grand Terrace

Burroughs shortstop Kaitlin Okimoto was one of the leaders and helped the Indians make the CIF playoffs all four years she played. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“During the ninth inning, the second extra inning, I hit a home run over the fence to go up by one run,” Okimoto said. “After that, the team started to rally and we went up by four to win the game.”

Yet it was more than that. “The best part was that straight after the game the seniors headed to our graduation ceremony where we wore our jerseys under our robes,” Okimoto said.

Of course, the goal each year was to win the Pacific League title. “We have set many goals over the years, but we were most excited about winning league two years in a row,” said Okimoto, who batted .429 this season with eight home runs, 30 RBIs, 11 doubles, four triples with 30 runs scored and a .505 on-base percentage.  “Making the playoffs every year and getting to the semifinals. That made us the first Burroughs softball team to do so.”

JBHS Softball 1st Playoff Game

Okimoto (#32) was fearless. Here the senior who will attend Brown University where she will play softball, slides into second base in a CIF opening-round game. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The Indians lost to the No. 2 ranked team in the nation, Grand Terrace 7-0 in the semifinals, and finished the year with a 24-5 mark.

Burroughs also swept through the league with a 14-0 record and went 13-1 the previous season.

Despite playing in 106 high school games, there were a few that stood out for Okimoto, who will attend Brown University as a business major and will also play softball.

“My freshman year we played a pre-season game at La Canada and I got up and hit a home run over the fence,” Okimoto recalled. “That was my first high school home run.”

Okimoto went on: “The second game I remember the most was the second game, my junior year, against Burbank High School. I got a double play and I hit well. Our team fought back and finally pushed a run past them to end their winning streak. We tied them for the Pacific League championship, the first one I had in my high school career.”

Okimoto, who closed out her junior campaign with a .480 batting average, 21 RBIs and 21 runs tallied with eight doubles, said this season will be looked back upon fondly.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Okimoto played shortstop. Here she shows off her incredible arm strength. (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

“We leave behind the memory of a team that came together and gave it their all for the game and each other,” she said.

Okimoto said while one of the leaders, she knew it was a team effort that set this squad apart.

“My biggest asset on the field was knowing my teammates always had my back,” she pointed out. “I knew that if I made an error or wasn’t playing well that they would pick me up. Every single girl on that team played for each other which made playing fun and when you’re having fun on the field, you are hard to beat.”

Okimoto, a gifted athlete who also plays travel ball for the ACES (Ashley Creamer Elite Softball), said she tried her hand at another sport and liked it.

“When I was a freshman I actually played varsity basketball,” she said, “but sophomore year I made the difficult decision to focus on softball, so I quit basketball. I have always known that softball was my passion and I knew that in order to excel I had to commit to it.”

Okimoto said playing at Burroughs was a dream come true, and it was because of her fellow players, who were always supportive.

“My teammates would say that I am determined, hardworking and a leader on and off the field,” she said.

Okimoto draws inspiration from her grandfather, Ralph Judkins. “I look up to my grandpa,” she said. “He has accomplished so many things in his life and has worked hard for everything he has. He can always make me laugh with his one-liners. He has also always supported me in what I choose to pursue.”

Burroughs Historic Softball Season Ends With 7-0 Loss In Semifinals

By Rick Assad


Burroughs High’s softball team didn’t play an All-Star team in Tuesday’s CIF Southern Section Division III semifinal game at Olive Park, but it may have felt that way.

Grand Terrace, top-seeded and ranked No. 2 in the nation by the website maxpreps.com, waltzed to a 7-0 victory, its 25th consecutive straight win, 17th shutout, and will face Redondo Union in the title game on Saturday.

It’s not that the No. 4 seeded Indians (24-5) didn’t give a mighty effort, it’s that the Titans, who have 12 players committed to Division I college programs, were simply too good. Burroughs had its 15-game winning streak snapped.

Three players will play for the University of Oklahoma and they include pitcher Melanie Olmos, third baseman Eliyah Flores and outfielder Alycia Flores.

JBHS Softball vs Grand Terrace

Burroughs catcher Brianna Devellano makes a play at the plate against Grand Terrace in Tuesday’s CIF semifinal game. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

This was a special and talented Burroughs softball team as it became the first squad to reach the semifinals.

“This was a competitive game early,” Burroughs coach Doug Nicol said. “But we needed to play near-perfect and we didn’t. They played hard and they never gave up. I’m really proud of this team.”

Olmos was stellar in the circle as she allowed two hits with one walk, had five strikeouts and one hit batter in five and one-third innings.

“It begins in the circle,” Grand Terrace assistant coach Wil Loredo said of the pitching staff that includes Yesenia Morrison, who went one and two-third frames, while striking out three.

Last season, Grand Terrace reached the championship game, and came within one inning of winning.

Javier Olmos is the other assistant coach and he emphasized team play. “All the girls play for top organizations. This isn’t new to them. This is a good group of girls.”

JBHS Softball vs Grand Terrace

Pitcher Presley Miraglia and third baseman Brianna Johnson talk it over. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Olmos had praise for the Indians: “That team over there is a fine team and well-coached,” he said. “We knew that it wasn’t going to be easy. There are several really good players on that team. We did our research.”

The only Burroughs players reaching base via a hit or walk were Kaitlin Okimoto in the first, Amanda Flores in the second and Hannah Talavera in the third.

Olmos gave up a two-out walk to Okimoto, who will be attending Brown University, in the first inning, but then induced Presley Miraglia to pop up.

JBHS Softball vs Grand Terrace

Left fielder Isabel Frias gets the ball into the infield in a CIF semifinal game against the Titans. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Olmos retired the first two batters in the second, but Flores lashed a base hit up the middle. Olmos fanned Destiny Velazquez to retire the side.

With one out in the third inning, Talavera tripled to right field only to see Lauren Lopez and Okimoto each pop up.

Olmos worked a 1-2-3 fourth inning, but then hit Flores to lead off the fifth. Olmos then struck out Velazquez and Brianna Devellano and got Talavera to foul out.

“I thought we held them down pretty well,” said Devellano, the catcher who went hitless in two at-bats and will play at Pasadena City College or El Camino College. “It wasn’t a blowout.”

JBHS Softball vs Grand Terrace

Burroughs shortstop Kaitlin Okimoto rifles the ball to first base in a 7-0 loss to Grand Terrace. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Olmos retired the side in order in the sixth, but Olmos’ defense committed its only error in the seventh with two out when Flores was safe. Velazquez then fanned to end the contest.

Miraglia wasn’t especially sharp as she surrendered 11 hits with one hit batter while fanning four in six and two-third frames.

Mia Storer went one-third of an inning and walked a batter.

“I’m always a little nervous in the first inning,” said Miraglia, whose defense committed three errors. “Knowing that if you lose, your season is over makes you even more nervous. What I try to do is forget about all that and just try and get the next out.”

Miraglia added: “This is the best any Burroughs team has done. I’m really proud of what we accomplished.”

The Titans (27-1) scored in four of seven innings including the first frame when they led 1-0 after Miraglia allowed three hits.

Eliyah Flores doubled to left field and went to third base on a sacrifice by Alyssa Graham. Flores was erased on a force out at the plate on a terrific throw by third baseman Brianna Johnson.

JBHS Softball vs Grand Terrace

The Burroughs softball team lines up before the start of Tuesday’s CIF semifinal game against Grand Terrace. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“I came out and struggled in my first at-bat,” said Johnson, who fanned three times. “I was more confident in my other at-bats. They’re a solid team.”

Lilly Bishop reached on a fielder’s choice and pinch runner Alexis Lopez entered the game.

Olmos was safe on a hit to right center as Lopez raced to third base and scored on a single by Morgan Parsons.

Miraglia went 1-2-3 in the second inning, but allowed two runs in the third inning when Eliyah Flores had an infield single, went to third on Graham’s single to right, and scored on an error.

Graham moved to third base on the miscue and crossed the plate when Bishop was safe on a fielder’s choice.

Miraglia toured a perfect fourth and fifth frame, but then ran into trouble in the sixth as she gave up three hits including a two-run homer to Parsons as Olmos, who singled to left, scored in front of her.

Danielle Rico then followed with an infield single, but Miraglia escaped without any more runs scoring.

The Titans tacked on two runs in the seventh inning when Graham singled with one out and scored on Bishop’s double to right center.

Lopez came in as a pinch runner for Bishop, went to third on a single by Alexis Lemus and crossed the plate on an error.

Burroughs Softball Reaches Semifinals With 4-0 Win Over Norwalk

By Rick Assad


The Burroughs High softball team has a date with top-seeded and nationally ranked Grand Terrace in the CIF Southern Section Division III semifinals at Olive Park on Tuesday with a 3:15 p.m. first pitch.

That’s because on Thursday, the No. 4 seeded Indians (24-4) needed nine innings in order to subdue host Norwalk 4-0 in a quarterfinal match. Burroughs was blanked until that point when it scored four runs.

“We won the game because of our defense,” Burroughs coach Doug Nicol said. “Our defense held us in the game. It was highlight after highlight. I don’t want to sound over dramatic, but that was the greatest effort by a team that I’ve ever seen. It was unbelievable.”

The Indians’ next game is going to be against a team that hasn’t allowed a run during three playoff games and is ranked No. 2 in the nation by the website maxpreps.com.

The ninth inning began with Kaitlin Okimoto hitting a ball to deep center field for a home run that made it 1-0.

Presley Miraglia was safe on a swinging bunt and Nikki Ricciardella entered as a pinch runner. Brianna Johnson singled and both runners scored on Amanda Flores’ triple to center field. Flores crossed the plate on Destiny Velazquez’s base hit.

In the opening round, the Titans, who are 26-1 and have a 24-game winning streak which is currently the longest, defeated Peninsula 10-0, then knocked off San Clemente 7-0 in the second round and Don Lugo 8-0 in the quarters.

Norwalk outhit the Indians, 11-7, but was unable to score any runs off pitching ace Miraglia, who went nine frames, striking out eight with one walk.

Aside from the victory over Norwalk, Burroughs, which has won 15 straight games, the second longest, has beaten Irvine 4-2 in the second round and drilled Tesoro 8-0 in the first round.