Burbank High softball moves forward, Crescenta Valley takes step back

LA CRESCENTA — The Burbank High and Crescenta Valley softball teams are both in survival mode with a few games remaining in the regular season.

The Bulldogs are trying to fend off all comers and capture their second straight Pacific League championship, as well as go into the postseason as the division's top seed.

For the Falcons, their situation is more dire, as they are trying to keep their hopes alive to earn a final guaranteed playoff spot from the league.

With both teams trying to focus on their separate accomplishments, Burbank and Crescenta Valley met Tuesday in their final Pacific League meeting of the season. Behind two runs batted in by Jazmin Orozco and a sold pitching effort from Caitlyn Brooks, the Bulldogs were able to notch a 3-1 victory at Crescenta Valley.

The win brings the Bulldogs (20-3, 11-0 in league) one win away from earning a share of the league title. Burbank can accomplish that with a victory Thursday at Hoover. If it is victorious against the Tornadoes, Burbank can lock up its second outright crown with a win May 13 against Glendale at McCambridge Park.

Along with notching their 20th win this season my knocking off the Falcons (13-11, 6-5), the Bulldogs also raised their winning streak to 18 games.

With just three games remaining in the regular season, what Crescenta Valley needs to do to get into the playoffs is pretty clear.

"We have to win out if we want to be in the playoffs," said Falcons Coach John Pehar, whose team is in a fourth-place tie with Glendale (6-5 in league), just behind third-place Arcadia (7-4). "That is something that we need to do and it is something that we have to focus on. It is also something we would like to do for our seniors."

Crescenta Valley will take on Muir on Thursday, face Hoover on May 13 and finish the regular season at Arcadia on May 15.

Burbank, the No. 1 team in CIF Southern Section Division III, didn't exactly overpower the Falcons, but did enough to gain the victory. The Bulldogs stranded nine runners in the contest.

"Stranding runners is something that we've struggled with all season," Burbank Coach Mike Delaney said. "I don't know what it is? It's not like its pressure, because they are very relaxed at the plate. But sometimes I think they are looking for pitches that aren't there.

"We seem to get timely hits when we need them, but sometimes we just don't string together the hits when we need to."

The Bulldogs received another fine effort from Brooks, a junior, as she ran her record to 18-3. Brooks, the reigning All-Area Player of the Year, went the distance, striking out 13 and giving up five hits.

With Brooks batting .545 coming into the game, the Falcons pitched around her, walking her four straight times on 17 pitches. Three of the walks didn't hurt Crescenta Valley, but one did lead to the Bulldogs' first run.

Brooks drew a walk with two outs in the second inning and was replaced by pinch-runner Hanna Moulton. The next batter, Lily Winn, was hit by a pitch and Julia Duarte followed with a single to shallow center field to load the bases. Orozco than put together a solid nine-pitch at-bat, fouling off five pitches before roping a single to left that scored Moulton.

Winn scored a batter later on an infield error to put Burbank in front, 2-0.

Orozco, who was two for four with two runs batted in, struck again in the fifth inning, taking a 2-2 pitch from starter Olivia Thayer and depositing it over the center-field fence for a solo home run.

"It was a high pitch and my coach told me not to swing at any high pitches," Orozco said. "But I felt it and I just went for it."

Crescenta Valley finally got on the board in the seventh inning. With one out, Rachael Abboud (two for three) singled and was followed by a walk from Sydnee Wells. The next batter, Baylee Renfro, powered a double to the fence in left-center field to score Abboud. However, with the tying run in scoring position, Brooks induced an infield liner and a strikeout to end the game.


Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.

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