BURBANK — Thanks in part to stellar pitching and a relentless offense, the Burbank High softball team finds itself atop the CIF Southern Section Division III poll.
The Bulldogs spent most of the first month of the season trying to attain the top spot. With that accomplished, the Bulldogs will look to remain there while also trying to capture the program’s first Pacific League championship.
“We have to stay fresh and focused to stay on top,” said Burbank Coach Nicole Drabecki, whose team registered a 17-1 league home win against Glendale on Thursday at McCambridge Park. “I told the players the other day that we now have a huge target on our back and that teams are going to come after us.
“We need to be prepared for that, as well as keep working on the fundamentals and mental parts of the game. There’s still a lot of the season left, so we know it’s going to be a grind.”
Burbank improved to 9-1, 2-0 in league. Glendale dropped to 2-8, 1-2.
The Nitros took a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning before watching the Bulldogs flex their muscles to the tune of 13 hits. Ashley Russo finished with three hits, including a two-run inside-the-park home run in the fourth.
“It definitely means a lot to be No. 1,” said Russo, who scored three runs and drove in three in the first of a pair of head-to-head matchups with Glendale. “It’s great to see how far this program has come since I was a freshman.
“We’ve grown together as a team and we play well together.”
Glendale grabbed a 1-0 advantage when Jordan Lousararian tripled down the right-field line to score Alex Howard, who reached base on an infield single that caromed off the glove of Burbank pitcher Caitlyn Brooks.
Burbank scored three runs in the third to take a 3-1 lead. Jazmin Orozco sliced a two-run triple to right to cap the inning. A fielder’s choice by Lily Winn padded Burbank’s lead to 4-1 in the third.
Glendale’s inexperience showed in the fourth. The Nitros made four errors, paving the way for the Bulldogs to enjoy a 13-run inning.
Burbank, which won its sixth game in a row, sent 16 batters to the plate in the fourth. The Bulldogs batted for nearly 30 minutes against deflated Glendale.
Russo, a center fielder, scored two runs and drove in three in the inning. Julia Duarte had three runs batted in the inning for the Bulldogs, who got one RBI apiece from Leslie Arreola, Orozco, Laina Do, Winn, Caitlyn Brooks and Tiffany Pisa.
The Bulldogs scored six unearned runs in the fourth.
“We were prepared for [Burbank],” said Glendale Coach Christine Paknik, whose team finished with two hits. “We had that good first inning.
“Right now, we are trying to mix and match with some different things. Burbank has got a good program and they have some very good athletes.”
Burbank also got three runs each from Bridgette Pisa, Tiffany Pisa and Kaitlyn Brooks.
Brooks, a sophomore right-hander, struck out 10. She struck out the side in the second. In two league games, Brooks has struck out 27. She struck out 17 on March 4 in Burbank’s 7-0 road win against Hoover.
The teams will meet again at 3:30 p.m. April 25 at Glendale.