BURBANK — If there was a good time for the Crescenta Valley High softball team to get to a Burroughs High squad that was reeling, Tuesday’s Pacific League contest was the perfect opportunity.
The Indians were fresh off a loss last week to rival Burbank. To make matters worse, the team was without its all-league starting catcher after she was thrown out of the game against the Bulldogs and was forced to sit out the contest against the Falcons. She was one of four players missing from the Burroughs roster for various reasons Tuesday.
With both teams tied for second in league, it was a chance for Crescenta Valley to make a move.
However, Burroughs was steadfast, as it used two big innings to turn back the Falcons, 10-4, in a game at Olive Park.
“This performance by our team is truly one of the proudest moments of my coaching career,” Burroughs Coach Doug Nicol said. “We have lost four starters in the course of two weeks … and I challenged the girls in this game. I told them that this was their opportunity to prove to everyone that they are a team and they need to show that.
“We had some girls who really came up big in this game and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The win puts Burroughs (15-5-1, 7-2 in league), which is ranked No. 8 in this week’s CIF Southern Section Division III poll, in second place alone in league, just a game ahead of Crescenta Valley (13-9, 6-3).
Burroughs was able to put the ball in play for most of the game against Falcons starting pitcher Olivia Thayer, as the Indians had just two strikeouts in the contest.
“They are a very good hitting team,” Crescenta Valley Coach John Pehar said. “We can hit the ball as well, we just didn’t do that today. We spend a lot of time on hitting and they should be able to hit a pitcher like the one they saw today. It’s disappointing, because we didn’t hit the ball like [Burroughs] did. We hit a lot of pop-ups and chopping ground balls.”
The Indians used two big innings to account for nine of their 10 runs.
With catcher Michelle Santiago sidelined and serving the suspension, the Indians called upon sophomore Brianna Devellano to start behind the dish. Devellano came through, going two for four with a run scored and two runs batted in.
“At the beginning I was kind of nervous because it was a big game and we were playing one of the better teams in league,” Devellano said. “But after the few first pitches, I kind of settled down and it was just like another game for me. Michelle sets a big standard, so I just want to try and live up to that.”
It was the Falcons who struck first, scoring a run in the top of the first inning. Hannah Cookson (one for two with two walks, one run scored and an RBI) took a Cheyenne Steward pitch and drove it into right-center field for an inside-the-park home run.
It didn’t take Burroughs long to erase that lead, however, as it brought 10 players to the plate in the bottom of the first inning and pushed across four runs. Steward (one for one with three walks, one run scored and an RBI), Aimee Rodriguez and Devellano drove in runs in the frame.
The Indians increased their lead to 5-1 when Danielle Ryan drove in Sidney Ortega, who reached on an error, in the second inning.
Crescenta Valley cut the lead to one, 5-4, with two runs in the third inning and one in fourth. In the third, the Falcons scored a run on a fielder’s choice by Rachael Abboud (two for four with a run batted in) and Taylor Hill drove in the other run on a single. In the fourth, Sydnee Wells reached base on an error and scored on another error.
“I thought we were very resilient when [Crescenta Valley] came back and made it 5-4,” Nicol said. “They could have gotten nervous and let it slip away from them. But they were able to bounce back with a big inning to allow us to pull away.”
The Indians brought another 10 players to the plate in the fourth to manufacture the five runs. Along with an RBI single by Devellano, DJ Santos drove in two runs in the inning on a bases-loaded slow roller through the middle.
Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.