OLIVE PARK — Throughout most of the first five innings, the Burroughs High and Knight softball teams couldn’t capitalize on their numerous scoring opportunities.
In the sixth inning, things changed in a hurry as Burroughs seized its final chance.
Megan McKenna hit a sacrifice fly and Michelle Santiago added a two-run home run in the sixth to lead second-seeded Burroughs to a 3-0 home victory in a CIF Southern Section Division III first-round contest Thursday afternoon.
Burroughs (24-3) will meet South Torrance, which posted a 2-1 win against Paloma Valley on Thursday, in a second-round game Tuesday at a site to be determined.
It certainly wasn’t easy for the Indians, who won the Pacific League championship for the third year in a row and were playing their first game since posting a 3-2 league win against cross-town rival Burbank on May 10.
“We knew coming in that it would be a close game because we’ve been involved in a lot of them throughout the year,” said Burroughs Coach Doug Nicol, whose team won its sixth game in a row. “We saw Knight in their wild-card game Tuesday and we wanted to get the cobwebs out because they have a good team.
“This is just a great team win because of the way they hung in there. If you stay in it, good things will happen.”
Burroughs made things happen in the sixth. Davina Del Castillo led off by reaching base on an error by the second baseman and moved to second on a sacrifice by Cheyenne Steward. Brice Edrington singled to center off Knight starting pitcher Kaila Crandall to advance Del Castillo to third. McKenna then delivered a sacrifice fly to center to score Del Castillo to make it 1-0.
“Megan has been doing things like that all year,” Nicol said. “She was ready and it’s more of the same thing from her.”
The Indians capped the scoring when Santiago hit an inside-the-park home to right center on a 1-2 pitch from Crandall.
Burroughs starting pitcher Haley Schulman (18-3) yielded six hits and struck out seven. The right-hander allowed the lead-off batter to reach base in the second through fourth innings, but managed to escape each jam.
Knight’s eighth and ninth hitters reached base to begin the third, but Schulman got the next three batters on a strikeout, flyball and grounder.
“I had to keep calm and not worry about the runners on base,” Schulman said. “I just had to go out there and get those outs.
“It’s good motivation for me and the team. Now, we just want to keep it going.”
Nicol said Schulman got the key outs when needed.
“She did it again and I think she’s one of the best pitchers in Southern California,” Nicol said. “People got on base, but you didn’t see her get flustered.”
Burroughs saw its first two batters reach base in the fifth. However, Crandall got the next three hitters on a strikeout and two popups.
Burroughs finished with six hits. Edrington collected a pair of hits and Santiago, Caitlin Loera, Kailanie Oasay and Steward had one apiece.
Knight, which finished 22-7, got two hits from Allison Mercado.