LA CRESCENTA — Cheyenne Steward had quite a bit on her mind Friday.
The Burroughs High softball senior pitcher spent a chunk of time leading up to a key Pacific League game against host Crescenta Valley breaking down ways to deal with the Falcons’ offense. She got off to a rough start before settling down nicely.
“All day, I just thought about what I needed to do because they have a lot of good hitters,” Steward said after Burroughs posted a 7-3 victory. “I knew I had to be careful and hit my spots as best I could.
“We got here to the field and suddenly it hits you that you are going to be facing some of the best hitters in our league. CV got us twice last year, so we wanted to be able to bounce back.”
Steward, a right-hander, allowed 11 hits to improve to 5-2-1. She regained her composure after allowing two first-inning runs and escaped a couple of jams to help Burroughs (10-3-1, 2-0 in league) top Crescenta Valley (5-4, 1-1) in the first of two head-to-head matchups. The teams will meet again April 29 at Olive Park in Burbank.
Burroughs Coach Doug Nicol said Steward regrouped before the Indians mounted their comeback.
“Cheyenne went out there and challenged them,” said Burroughs Coach Doug Nicol, whose team finished with 14 hits and is ranked 10th in the latest CIF Southern Section Division III poll. “She gave up some hits early on, but she minimized the damage. That's because she stayed focused.
“It's a big game early on in league. You come to someone else's dirt and win, it's always a good feeling. You come to CV and you know about its strong tradition. Now, we want to be a team that can dominate in league.”
Crescenta Valley, seeking its first league championship since 2011, scored twice in the first on run-scoring singles by Hannah Cookson and Hailey Cookson. Steward escaped additional trouble by getting a fly ball to end the inning with the bases loaded.
Burroughs, which won a league crown in 2012, cut the deficit to 2-1 on a home run by Steward to center field in the second. The Indians scored three runs in the third to take the lead for good. Kaitlin Okimoto had a two-run double to give the Indians a 3-2 lead and Delaney Nicol added a run-scoring single to extend the lead to 4-2.
Burroughs scored three runs in the sixth to make it 7-2. Tori Talavera, Michelle Santiago and Okimoto each drove in one run to provide Burroughs with a bigger cushion.
“We did our part offensively,” Steward said.
Crescenta Valley closed out the scoring with a run in the seventh on a single by Hailey Cookson.
Crescenta Valley first-year Coach John Pehar said the Falcons, who left nine runners on base, couldn't capitalize on several quality scoring opportunities.
“We needed to hit the ball better in some of those situations,” Pehar said. “We started hitting in the first inning, but then we just went flat.
“We had a lot of runners on base and we just failed to get them in. They are frustrated because they know they are better hitters than that.”
Burroughs received three hits from Sidney Ortega and two apiece from Danielle Ryan, Nicol and Steward.
Hailey Cookson paced the Falcons with three hits. Hannah Cookson and Kendall Ebert had two hits apiece.
Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich .