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Teams ready to get going

BURBANK — It has been a successful season for the four area high school softball teams.

Not only did two schools — Burroughs High and Bellarmine-Jefferson — capture titles in their respective leagues, but all four — including Providence and Burbank — qualified for the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

Because they placed first in their leagues, the Indians and Guards earned first-round home games, while the Pioneers are on the road for their opener. The Bulldogs were relegated to play a wild-card game and they took on host Quartz Hill on Tuesday.

Here’s a look at the other three games:

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BURROUGHS

The Indians (19-7) tied Crescenta Valley for the Pacific League title, but enter the playoffs as the league’s No. 1 seed after having a higher run differential against the Falcons.

They will take on the winner of Tuesday’s Division III wild-card game between St. Lucy’s and Fillmore at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at Olive Park.

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First-year Indians Coach Doug Nicol said his team is ready to start the playoffs on a positive note.

“I’m excited about the playoffs, and I know the girls are excited,” Nicol said. “We think that we have the talent to make some noise in the playoffs. We are an invigorated team right now and we will be ready to go [Thursday].”

Burroughs — which also won a league crown in 2010 — is fresh of a 5-3 win last week against cross-town rival Burbank.

The Indians come into the first-round contest after winning nine of their final 10 games of the regular season.

Burroughs has a dangerous group of hitters, including six who are batting .400 or better. The team has been led by junior catcher Shannon Trujillo, who is hitting .430 with eight home runs, 37 hits, 34 runs batted in and 33 runs scored.

The team also has accomplished hitters in seniors Hailee White and Taylor Buliavac, along with junior Haley Schulman.

In the circle, the Indians have been paced by junior pitcher Heather Haynes, who is 9-2 with a 2.17 earned-run average and 88 strikeouts.

BELL-JEFF

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The Guards (18-5) received the No. 2 seeding in the division after rolling to an easy title in the Santa Cruz League. It was the program’s second straight championship.

The Guards will host the winner of Tuesday’s wild-card game between Public Safety Academy and Maricopa in a Division VII game at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at Gross Park.

Because some of the teams in the Santa Cruz League didn’t exactly field strong teams, second-year Bell-Jeff Coach John Castaneda scheduled a challenging nonleague schedule that included bigger schools and more competitive squads in order to get the Guards prepared for the playoffs.

The Guards enter the playoffs with a great deal of momentum, having won 13 of their last 14 games. The team’s only losses have come against Harvard-Westlake, 9-2, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, 11-9, and 7-5, Canyon Country Canyon, 6-5, and Apple Valley, 8-4.

Bell-Jeff has a powerful offense, which includes sophomore Monique Landini, and a solid pair of pitchers in junior Jackie Pons and freshman Amanda Maalouf.

PROVIDENCE

The Pioneers (10-11) are coming off of a second-place finish in the Liberty League and will open at 3:15 p.m. Thursday with a Division VII game at Rolling Hills Prep.

The team has a reliable starting pitcher in senior Bronwyn Stewart. Stewart, a four-year starter, has nine wins and 88 strikeouts.

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At the plate, junior Gian-Mari Llaguno has been on fire, as she has a .500 batting average with 28 hits and 14 runs scored. Teammate Natalie Ficocelli, a senior, is batting .400 with 20 hits, 27 RBI and Stewart has driven in 21 runs.

Rolling Hills Prep (13-2) finished second in the Coastal League.


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