PALMDALE — The Little League All-Star softball state championship crown was within reach for the Burbank 9-10-11 team.
The only thing that stood in the way of the District 16 and Section 2 champions’ rise to glory was one last game against Culver City.
The Media City team wasted little time achieving that goal, as Burbank defeated Culver City, 11-0, in four innings to claim a divisional title Tuesday at American Indian Little League field, finishing the season as state champions.
“I always played them up, and one thing is they never give up,” Burbank manager Paloma Arteaga said. “They fight whether they’re winning 24-0 or they’re losing 24-0. They just always fight. They’re little bodies and big hearts.”
Burbank opened up the state tournament with a 4-2 victory against Culver City, the District 24 and Section 4 champion.
Culver City then won, 9-4, against Hesperia American, the District 49 and Section 8 champion, in the elimination game on Monday to set up the rematch against Burbank.
“I tell them I push them because I know what they can do,” Arteaga said. “When they don’t give me all, I expect it all.
“Right before the game, I told them to give me three-and-a-half hours of really good softball and we’ll come home with the win. If we lose, we have to come back [Wednesday] and we’ll just work harder.”
Behind Burbank shortstop Delaney White’s impressive performance at the plate (three for three with a triple, single, two run batted in and two runs scored), the Media City recorded eight hits and capitalized on Culver City’s errors and pitching struggles to score five unearned runs.
“I feel like my coaches really help me with how to hit and how to hit off the tee,” White said. “You know, not to drop my shoulders because I would get struck out. My coaches help me through all of it.”
White’s triple in the top of the third inning sparked a six-run rally for Burbank, which capped the frame with a 9-0 lead.
“Actually, I didn’t even know that,” said White of the rally. “It’s actually really amazing to know that I can start something by just hitting a ball.”
To complete the all-around team effort, Burbank pitchers Liliana Escobar and Hailey Franco combined for an abbreviated no-hitter. Escobar started in the circle and tossed 1 1/3 innings with three walks before Franco relieved her for 2 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and one walk.
“My coaches said give it all you got,” Franco said. “If you walk, you walk, but just still try and throw as many strikes as you can.”
The Culver City defense struggled from the get-go as the home team committed a throwing error from second to first put lead-off batter Madison Meisenbach on base. Culver City pitcher Anaya Francis then walked two straight to load the bases.
With no outs in the first, Burbank scored two runs on back-to-back passed balls before White drove in her first run on a single to give the Media City a 3-0 lead. Francis was relieved thereafter by baseman Emily Mendes.
In the bottom of the first, Escobar walked lead-off batter Lina Onofre, but retired the side to end the inning with a 3-0 lead intact.
With one out in the bottom of the second, Escobar walked two consecutive batters and a passed ball set up runners on second and third. Franco stepped in to retire the side to maintain Burbank’s 3-0 lead.
Another Culver City throwing error to start the third put Franco on first, before White’s triple to center field drove the relief pitcher home to make it 4-0.
Escobar followed up with a single to score White before the the pitcher scored on another passed ball to give Burbank a 6-0 advantage.
As a “two-out rally” chant started in the Burbank dugout, right fielder Kaylie Lowe and second baseman Cat Sandoval recorded back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second with Meisenbach at the plate.
A throwing error from third to first scored two more to give Burbank an 8-0 lead, before another throwing error to first scored Meisenbach to cap the six-run inning.
White knocked a one-out single in the top of the fourth before Escobar tripled to make it 10-0. Burbank left fielder Suzie Barrios made it 11-0 with a ground out to score Escobar.
White, Franco and Meisenbach scored two runs, while Escobar, Lowe and Sandoval all scored once. Barrios drove in one run and recorded one hit.
“We wanted it,” Arteaga said. “We knew we had the chance to. You never know 100 percent. Like I said, they always play up. They played against 12-year-olds and they held their ground. They were playing the major division, 12-13-14, and they held their own, so I expected nothing less coming down this age level.”