BURBANK — A return to the CIF Southern Section playoffs was short-lived for the Burbank High softball team.
In their first appearance in the postseason since 2016, the Bulldogs faced Norwalk and its accomplished pitcher Breanna Vasquez in a Division IV wild-card game Tuesday afternoon.
Burbank surrendered four runs in the top of the first inning and Vasquez kept the the hosts in check for much of the game, striking out 16, as the Bulldogs fell 4-2 at McCambridge Park.
The loss ended the season for Burbank (16-12), which placed third in the Pacific League and returned to the playoffs after missing out in 2017 following a fifth-place league showing.
"We have enough underclassmen who I think learned what it's going to take and what it's like to get back to the playoffs," Burbank coach Mike Delaney said. "These seniors did an amazing job of leading this season, all of them.
"I think it was that cohesiveness that got us back to being competitive again and not just being a bunch of individual players. This team is really special and I really hate to see their season is done."
Vasquez got into a groove early in the game for Norwalk (11-10), which placed fourth in the Suburban league. The senior right-hander who is headed to the University of Central Florida, struck out 10 of the first 12 Bulldogs batters she faced.
Vasquez gave up just three hits, one walk and hit one batter.
"The first couple of innings I was feeling really confident and the last couple of innings I was feeling a little nervous, but I knew my team had my back," said Vasquez, who also had a hit and scored a run from the leadoff spot. "It was nice to be able to relax and not to worry after we got those runs. If we would have scored one, I would have been a little more tense and I would think that I have to get these outs. So it was nice to have those four runs in early."
In the top of the first, the Lancers had just two hits off of Burbank junior starting pitcher Alyssa Porras. However, Porras hit a batter and the Bulldogs committed two errors that helped sustain a Norwalk rally.
Vasquez began the first with an infield hit and was plated by a double down the left-field line by second baseman Brianna Munoz. After shortstop Samantha Campos was hit by a pitch, the Knights scored two runs on two errors and one on a fielder's choice by first baseman Angelina Perez.
After the first inning, Porras was able to shut down Norwalk the rest of the way, yielding five hits while walking one and striking out two.
"I think we played today like we've played in a lot of games this season where we let the other team score runs in the first inning," Porras said. "We just needed to hit off the pitcher and we couldn't do that — she was good."
In the bottom of the first inning, Burbank received a two-out triple over the right fielder's head by center fielder Alex Davis. But she was left stranded after Vasquez notched a strikeout to end the inning.
The Bulldogs broke up the shutout in the fifth inning to make it 4-1. Designated player Sarah Garelick was hit by a pitch and scored on an infield throwing error.
Burbank's other two hits came in the seventh when it scored a run to cut the deficit to 4-2. Catcher Desi Gomez blooped a single to right field and was replaced by courtesy runner Carly Oldfield, who was plated by a base hit to center field by third baseman Bene Snyder.