Burbank High's Brooks again earns league's top honor in softball

Winning awards might seem old hat for Burbank High's Caitlyn Brooks.

As a standout pitcher for the Bulldogs last season, she was named the Pacific League's Player of the Year, earned her second-straight All-CIF Southern Section accolade and was honored as the All-Area Softball Player of the Year.

This season, Brooks has already started to reap the rewards after a successful junior season for Burbank, as she has been voted the Pacific League Player of the Year for a second consecutive year.

"I'm always honored to win an award like this," Brooks said. "I didn't even realize until recently that it was voted on by the other coaches in the league. It's nice to be recognized for all the hard work that I put in. It's something that really means a lot to me."

Brooks was among 12 Burbank and Burroughs players to earn all-league honors this season.

Making the first team for the Bulldogs were junior third baseman Lily Winn, sophomore first baseman Julia Duarte and junior catcher Bridgette Pisa, along with junior catcher Michelle Santiago and senior pitcher Cheyenne Steward for the Indians.

Second-team selections included Burbank junior left fielder Jasmin Orozco and senior right fielder Kaitlin Brooks and Burroughs sophomore third baseman Kaitlin Okimoto and senior second baseman Sidney Ortega.

Earning honorable mention were sophomore second baseman Cailey Stevenson of Burbank and sophomore designated player Danielle Ryan of Burroughs.

"We were a very young team this year," said Caitlyn Brooks about a squad that will lose only starter Kaitlin Brooks to graduation. "We had a lot of young players at certain positions and they were still learning. We are really excited about next year and we are already looking forward to it."

With Caitlyn Brooks in the circle and at the plate, the Bulldogs should again have a strong catalyst on the diamond. This past season, the right-hander showed her dominance as a pitcher. She had a 21-4 record and a 1.18 earned-run average over 160 innings. In addition, she struck out 258 and walked 22.

"It was kind of a no-brainer for most of the coaches in the league," Burbank first-year Coach Mike Delaney said about Brooks' selection as the league's top player. "You just have to look at what she did not only as a pitcher, but as a hitter to see that she really deserved the award.

"She is just such a great all-around player and she can do so much to beat you. She just brings so much to the table on the field and she has so much talent that she is such a benefit to the team."

In addition to her success in the circle, Brooks was also one of the most dangerous hitters in the league. The Notre Dame commit was second on the team with a .513 average (40 for 78) and also drove in 42 runs, had seven doubles, six triples and five home runs. She also ended with a .948 slugging percentage and a .623 one-base percentage.

Another statistic that stands out for Brooks is that she drew 25 walks, as many teams chose to pitch around her.

"To end up with 25 walks tells you a lot," Delaney said. "Teams just didn't want her up there hitting and they just pitched around her. And she didn't get frustrated with it; she just did what she had to do for the team, took the walk and got on base.

"I told her and the team that it is a huge honor when coaches will walk Caitlyn to load the bases so they don't have to pitcher to her."

Winn was the top hitter on the Burbank squad, finishing with a .535 average (46 for 86) to go along with 29 runs, 34 runs batted in, eight triples, three home runs and a .883 slugging percentage. However, what might be Winn's most remarkable stat is that she did not strike out in 86 plate appearances.

"That stat just shows you what a great hitter Lily is," Delaney said.

While Duarte hit .374 (34 for 91) with 23 runs, 34 RBI and five home runs, Pisa batted .410 (34 for 83) with 30 runs scored and 10 runs batted in.

Like Caitlyn Brooks, Steward was a versicle contributor for Burroughs, starting in the circle and also contributing at the plate. As a pitcher, she was 9-5 with a 2.59 ERA and struck out 58 over 111 innings. On offense, Steward was third on the team with a .516 average (32 for 62) to go along with 16 runs, 32 RBI, seven doubles, five home runs and a 1.000 slugging percentage.

Santiago led the Indians in hitting, ending with a .531 average (43 for 81) with 32 runs, 21 RBI and 10 doubles.

"Cheyenne Steward had one of the greatest years in the history of Burroughs softball," Burroughs Coach Doug Nicol said. "If you look at her stats, what that kid did offensively, defensively, on the mound, except for Caitlyn Brooks, I don't think one player in the entire area did what she did. She had just a fantastic year.

"We just had a great hitting team. We had three girls who batted over .500. We scored the most runs of any team in our division. Cheyenne was a catalyst, along with Michelle, who was just a super consistent player for us. This is the third year Michelle has made the first team in league."

For the second-teamers, Orozco hit .360 (31 for 86) with 22 RBI and 12 runs, Kaitlin Brooks had a .303 average (23 for 76) with 17 RBI, Ortega batted .518 (43 for 83) with 37 runs, 21 RBI and six doubles and Okimoto hit. .458 (33 for 68) with 30 runs, 27 RBI and eight doubles.

In earning honorable mention, Stevenson hit .296 (16 for 54) with 16 runs and eight RBI and Ryan had a .456 average (36 for 79) with 18 RBI, 13 runs and three home runs.



Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.

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