BURBANK — Burroughs High’s softball team welcomed CIF Southern Section Division I opponent Canyon Springs for a nonleague doubleheader at Olive Park in the host’s final games before spring break.
The Indians came away with a split against the Cougars Wednesday, pulling away late in the first game for an 8-2 win before dropping the back half of the twin bill, 9-5.
“I’m really happy about the whole day. I think we were winners today,” Burroughs Coach Doug Nicol said. “I was able to get lots of girls in in certain positions the second game and see how they would react against a good team. You don’t always have that opportunity. ... That’s why we play doubleheaders, because it gives us that opportunity.”
In game one, Burroughs, ranked No. 9 in CIF-Southern Section Division III, broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. The Indians then pushed across four more in the sixth, with a two-run triple by Sabrina Espitia starting the scoring, for an 8-1 advantage. Indians senior Cheyenne Steward went the distance in the circle to pick up the win.
“[Steward] did great and she’s hurting,” Nicol said. “She’s got a strained groin; you saw her limping out there. She hasn’t given up more than [a couple] runs the last three or four games. She’s pitched awesome and we expect more of the same. She’s a senior; this is her year.”
Game two saw the Indians (5-3) dig themselves an early four-run hole, only to dig out of it to draw even before promptly falling into another four-run hole they could not climb out of. After yielding four first-inning runs, Burroughs trailed, 5-1, in the fourth inning when Michelle Santiago came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded. The junior hammered a triple to right-center field and then came all the way around when the throw home eluded the Canyon Springs catcher to tie the contest at 5.
“[The Cougars pitcher] pitched it low and I usually don’t like low, but I think I just got under it enough to hit it out,” Santiago said. “I’m kind of slow, so anyone else it would have been a home run.”
However, in the top of the fifth, Canyon Springs (7-6) put up three runs, taking the lead back for good when Moli Garcia got it started by hitting the first of her home runs in the second game. The Cougar senior catcher hit a hard line drive in front of the Indians center fielder, who overran it, allowing the ball to skip by her and Garcia, who hit another solo home run in the seventh, to round the bases.
In the second game, both teams sent sophomore hurlers to the circle. Canyon Springs’ Erica Johnson got the best of it, going the distance striking out five, while allowing just five hits, and overcoming five fielding errors behind her to pick up the win.
The Burroughs battery in the second game was sophomore Danielle Ryan throwing to freshman catcher Destiny Velazquez, who made her first start of the season.
“I thought they did great,” Nicol said. “Danny is still working through some things coming back from a hip injury and she still left some balls up, but for the most part she did well. We let her down a little bit defensively, which kind of hurt us. For Destiny it was her first game starting and finishing a game in her varsity career.”
Ryan had a rough beginning, allowing four runs on five hits, but hung in there to go the distance for Burroughs and strike out five Cougars along the way. She also hit a two-out single to center field in the third inning to drive in Sidney Ortega from third base for her team’s first run of the game.
“We won the first game convincingly,” Nicol said, “and I think the second game wasn’t a convincing win for them. It was a game where both teams battled and we had some mistakes that cost us, but we’ll fix those mistakes.”
Santiago had a strong day at the plate in both games while playing solid defense at third base. The junior had three singles in the first game and drove in two. The second game saw Santiago lead off with a double down the left-field line and then get her third through fifth RBI of the double dip with her triple in the fourth.
“[Santiago] is one of the best players in this whole area,” Nicol said.
Burroughs will not play again until March 24, when it will take the field in the Diamond Bar tournament against Walnut. After that, Pacific League play looms, where the Indians will look to improve on their third-place finish from last year.
“We are all just getting ready for league,” Santiago said, “because we know there are some big-time pitchers, so that’s all we’re really worried about.”