LA CRESCENTA — For a moment, reigning Pacific League softball champion Crescenta Valley High struggled to find its footing with its bats and gloves.
Crescenta Valley hosted Burbank on Tuesday in a league showdown, and the Bulldogs struck first for a one-run lead in the third inning after a number of earlier scoring opportunities.
But the Falcons regrouped behind a three-run home run in the fourth from junior Maddie De Leon and Crescenta Valley added four more runs in fifth to record an 8-2 win.
“Burbank battled,” Crescenta Valley coach Amanda Peek said. “Burbank battled and our girls came out flat. That’s softball. Softball is a game where if you come out flat and the other team comes out hyped, then you never know what the outcome could be.”
In the fourth, the Falcons tied the game at 1 with a one-out single from Devon Medina that drove in Peyton Hause. Then, with runners on first and second, De Leon belted a line drive to center for a three-run home run o give Crescenta Valley a 4-1 lead.
“I wanted to help my team any way I can, whether it was a ground ball or a pop-up — any way to score the runner,” De Leon said. “All I wanted to do was take advantage of the moment that I had because I had been sitting out for a long time, so I wanted to take advantage.”
The victory maintains Crescenta Valley’s perfect league start (11-2-1, 5-0 in league) and increased its win streak to six games. The Falcons are also ranked No. 1 in CIF Southern Section Division III.
“It was a one-pitch momentum change,” Peek said. “Once the home run came, then the momentum shifted back on to our side. I think the girls actually took a breath and were able to do that.”
Burbank (4-6-1, 3-2) led off the game with a single from Alex Davis, but Crescenta Valley pitcher Dee Dee Hernandez, the reigning All-Area Softball Player of the Year, retired the side to quell the threat.
The Bulldogs established another threat in the second with Erika Montoya on third, but an attempt to squeeze her home wasn’t successful.
With bases loaded n the third, Burbank finally got on board with a sacrifice fly from Desi Gomez, who drove home Tiffany Estrada for a 1-0 lead
“They’re a good ball club and have played some good teams,” Burbank coach Mike Delaney said. “They’re competitive, so we knew we had to take some chances. We’ve been hitting the ball pretty well and if we stuck to our hitting plan, we’ll do pretty well.
“There were just a couple of chances there where I think if we had capitalized on certain situations that we would have put more pressure on them and change the outcome of the game.”
Hernandez produced a 1-2-3 fourth that allowed the Falcons offense to rally in the bottom of the inning with four runs.
The sophomore pitched seven innings, struck out five and allowed five hits, two runs and four walks.
“We made [Hernandez] pitch a lot of pitches today,” Delaney said. “We stuck to our game plan well today, especially after we settled down. We made [Hernandez] throw and, in certain circumstances, that’s an advantage to us because we settled down as well.
“We’re not looking to cream the ball all the time. We’re actually looking to do some stuff offensively. Today was a good example. We left some runners on base, but if we fix that, it’s a different story.”
In the fifth, De Leon hit a two-out line drive toward third that grazed pass the tip of Gomez’s glove that brought in two more runs for a 7-1 lead.
Falcons shortstop Alyssa Hernandez followed with a two-out double to bring home Medina and cap the Falcons’ scoring with an 8-1 lead.
Burbank’s Izzy Sanchez cut the lead to 8-2 with a two-out RBI-single to score Gomez.
Stephanie Wichman, Hause and Medina each scored two runs for the Falcons.
For Burbank, Davis collected three hits that included a double and Gomez registered an RBI-double and scored one run.