BURBANK — Fueled by a dominating pitching performance, the Burbank High softball team clinched its second consecutive outright Pacific League title in Tuesday afternoon’s pitcher’s duel with visiting Glendale.
Caitlyn Brooks struck out 19 batters and allowed two hits and no walks in a complete-game gem to secure the league championship with a 2-0 win over Glendale at McCambridge Park just five days after guaranteeing at least a share of the title.
The junior picked up her 20th win of the season, as the Bulldogs improved to 22-3 overall, including 20 straight victories and a 13-0 record in league play.
“I attacked their lineup, trusted my ability and my defense,” Brooks said. “I went after each hitter with a plan.”
Brooks’ counterpart, Jordan Lousararian, gave Glendale (15-7, 7-6) a fine effort in a game that had playoff implications for a Nitros squad that went into the day tied for third place in the league standings with Arcadia.
Lousararian was solid against a lineup that scored 13 runs in the first meeting and was complemented well by a potent defense behind her to hold the Bulldogs to only a pair of runs this time around. Burbank, held to its closest game in league this season, managed one extra-base hit on nine overall, a lead-off double Bridgette Pisa in the first.
Pisa was tagged out at third on Lily Winn’s single. Pisa made a dash for home on the ball hit to left field, but was held up by her coaches. The confusion allowed Glendale’s Sophie Georges to gun Pisa down at third. After the game, Burbank first-year Coach Mike Delaney regretted the decision.
“She pitched well and hit her spots, but we helped her out by leaving runners on base and running ourselves out of innings,” said Delaney of Lousararian.
Still, Burbank was able to get on the scoreboard and jump out to the 1-0 advantage after Lousararian hit Jazmin Orozco with the bases loaded. The Bulldogs took advantage of a Glendale error, which allowed pinch runner Hanna Moulton to advance to third.
Glendale’s defense was solid overall, turning double plays in the second and fourth innings.
Glendale’s three facets of the game were all nullified by Burbank’s ace, who struck out the side in each of the first three innings, needing 35 pitches to do so. Glendale didn’t put the ball in play until Rachel Bartamian grounded out to first in the fourth inning and didn’t reach base safely until Tiffany Bartamian’s single in the fifth. Alex Howard’s single in the seventh was the only other hit for Glendale.
“She stepped up her game,” Delaney said. “We’ve been holding her back this season, watching her innings and pitch counts. Now we’re into playoff-mode, she showed her true athlete. When she’s on, she’s tough to beat and it was a phenomenal performance [today].”
Winn’s third single of the afternoon plated Isabele Frias and gave Burbank its second run. The insurance would not be necessary, as Brooks struck out the side in the final two innings to close out the game and clinch the league title.
Orozco and Sabrina Steward sprayed two hits apiece, while Pisa and Brooks picked up the other two.
With Crescenta Valley and Arcadia playing for third place, Glendale can fall into a fourth-place tie with either the Falcons or the Indians, given the Nitros get past their rival Hoover in Thursday’s home game. According to Glendale Coach Greg Martin, however, the run differential will not go in their favor, hence preventing an automatic playoff berth.
Martin also said his squad will apply for a wild card, and deserves a spot in the CIF playoffs.
“It shows a lot of promise,” said Martin about his team’s effort against the CIF Southern Section Division III No. 1-ranked Bulldogs. “We’re starting to merit some respect and the girls have exceeded expectations.”
The Bulldogs didn’t celebrate much after clinching a share of the league crown Thursday and stayed even keel on Tuesday, as well.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Glendale — they’re a good team — but it’s all about the end result,” Delaney said. “It’s not healthy to get too high or too low. We measure and monitor our emotions. Maybe they were looking towards Burroughs, I don’t know.”
Brooks echoed her skipper’s sentiments.
“We take it game-by-game and pitch-by-pitch,” she said. “It builds our confidence when we play each game like it’s our last.”