These high school coaches are unrattled by snakes on diamond

Valencia West Ranch High coaches Casey and Brady Burrill have a decisive way to deal with the occasional visiting rattler.

Animal Planet needs to get its cameras trained on the Burrill brothers, Casey and Brady, at Valencia West Ranch High. They are quickly becoming adept at capturing and eradicating rattlesnakes.

Call them "Rattlesnakebusters."

Since August, 11 rattlesnakes have been found on or near the West Ranch baseball diamond and sent to rattlesnake heaven. The diamond is located near a hill that's probably a nice home to lots of rattlesnakes.

Coach Casey Burrill and his brother, Brady, the top assistant, have been the primary trackers of rattlesnake intruders.

They don't know why there has been an invasion of rattlesnakes, because before August of this school year, 17 had been eradicated in the previous seven years, Casey said.

"We've had them on the field, in the dugouts, on campus," he said.

Gail Pinsker, a spokeswoman for the William S. Hart Union High School District, said in an email, "The safety of our students, coaches and parents is our No. 1 priority and we are continually monitoring this situation, and mitigation measures are being considered for this seasonal problem."

Hey, the Burrill brothers are taking care of the problem, which makes them perfect candidates for a reality TV program.

They are no longer afraid of rattlesnakes, so they've become proactive in catching them.

"The strategy is sneak up behind with a long landscape rake, pin him and the other gets the head with a shovel," Casey said. "It's definitely a two-person event."

On the West Ranch baseball website, there's a rattlesnake logo that keeps a running count of rattlesnake eradications for this year.

Like in the 1984 movie "Ghostbusters," about three unemployed parapsychology professors who started a ghost removal service, the Burrill brothers could be on to something.

At a minimum, "Rattlesnakebusters" T-shirts could help pay for a new shovel.

A home run barrage

At 5 feet 9, 160 pounds, junior shortstop Daniel Patzlaff of Fountain Valley doesn't consider himself a home run hitter. So how does he explain hitting home runs in four consecutive at-bats last week over two games against Huntington Beach?

"I was kind of speechless," he said.

He had home runs in his final two at-bats Wednesday. The last of his blasts, in the seventh inning, gave the Barons a 12-11 victory. Then he hit home runs in his first two at-bats Friday, a 9-8 victory.

"That's a heck of a week," assistant coach Ron LaRuffa said. "I've never seen four in a row. He hit .470 as a freshman. He's one of the best hitters I've seen. He hit .350 as a sophomore. As he's getting stronger, he's getting more pop. But four in a row is amazing."

Huntington Beach Coach Benji Medure said, "We left the ball over the middle of the plate when we were trying to work away. He hit the mistakes. He's pretty solid."

Fountain Valley is 18-1 and ranked No. 2 by The Times. Patzlaff is committed to Oregon and batting .411.

"It was pretty exciting," he said of his accomplishment.

USC connection

Former USC assistant coach Marvin Sanders, the new football coach at Los Angeles Loyola, is bringing some former Trojans to help coach the Cubs.

Kennedy Polamalu will coach running backs. His son Trey is a freshman quarterback at Loyola. Lenny Vandermade, a former USC lineman, will coach the offensive line. Justin Mesa, who was a grad assistant with the Trojans, will be the offensive coordinator.

History at Dorsey

Deijenee Nelson, a senior shortstop at Dorsey, will become the first Dons softball player to sign a letter of intent this week when she signs with Fisk University.

She's batting .545 and has batted over .500 in each of her four seasons with the Dons.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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