GLENDALE — Caitlyn Brooks wasn’t aware the Hoover High softball team averaged 16 runs per game in its first three games of the season. That suited the budding Burbank sophomore pitcher fine.
Brooks turned in a performance Thursday afternoon that might not soon be forgotten while also serving notice that she plans to keep the Bulldogs in contention for the Pacific League championship.
“I didn’t know anything about Hoover’s offense,” said Brooks, who struck out 17 and allowed two hits to lead visiting Burbank to a league-opening 7-0 road victory against Hoover. “It’s just about me going out there and trying to get better.
“Right now, I have a lot of confidence with my pitches. It’s about speed and pitch location. I think I got into a zone after the first inning.”
Brooks, a right-hander, never escaped from her zone. She struck out the first nine batters she faced and struck out at least two batters each inning while going the distance.
Burbank Coach Nicole Drabecki praised Brooks’ effort.
“You can look at comparing the seasons from her freshman year right until now, and she’s improved 100%,” said Drabecki, whose team finished with nine hits. “She’s throwing harder and she’s got much better movement.
“She can be one of the best pitchers out there. She’s the best pitcher I’ve seen at this age in the time I’ve been coaching.”
Burbank, ranked No. 2 in the latest CIF Southern Section Division III poll behind Highland, improved to 4-1 after topping Hoover in the first of two head-to-head meetings. The teams will meet again at 3:30 p.m. April 23 at McCambridge Park in Burbank.
Hoover shortstop Kaitlyn Williams, a reigning All-Area honoree, had both hits for the Tornadoes (2-2). She recorded a single to right in the fourth inning and singled to center in the seventh.
Hoover Coach Rich Henning said Brooks (4-1) established herself immediately.
“That’s the best team and pitcher we’ve seen so far,” Henning said. “She’s probably going to be the best pitcher we see and the Pacific League will be in for a real treat watching her pitch a lot.
“She throws hard and she did a good job of keeping us off-balance. Their runs were legit because they hit the ball where we weren’t. We will get back on the right track.”
Burbank took a quick 1-0 lead in the first. Jazmin Orozco, who finished with two hits, led off with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch by Alissa Barcena, who was making her first start of the season. Ashley Russo grounded out to short to score Orozco.
Burbank padded its lead to 3-0 on run-scoring back-to-back doubles by Orozco and Russo in the third. The Bulldogs made it 4-0 when Brooks scored on a double by Lily Winn. Winn scored on an error to make it 5-0.
The Bulldogs scored a pair of runs in the fifth to close out the scoring. Russo scored on a groundout to shortstop by Kaitlin Brooks to extend the advantage to 6-0 before Caitlyn Brooks scored on a wild pitch by Barcena (0-1).
Caitlyn Brooks and Winn had two hits apiece for the Bulldogs, who competed without senior second baseman Katie Hooper (right-knee strain).