BURBANK — Having wrapped up the Pacific League championship last week, the Burbank High softball team could have afforded a loss in its season finale Thursday.
However, the Bulldogs had plenty to play for. Along with the chance to finish the league undefeated, the Bulldogs were also trying to hold on to their No. 2 ranking in CIF Southern Section Division III.
There was also a little motivation to beat their cross-town rival Burroughs.
Behind a fine pitching performance, as well as a solid outing at the plate, from sophomore Caitlyn Brooks, who tossed a one-hitter, Burbank was able to complete its perfect Pacific League campaign with a 9-0 victory against the Indians at Olive Park.
"This Burbank softball program has been around since 1973, and from what I know this is the first time a team has ever been able to go undefeated in league," Burbank Coach Nicole Drabecki said. "It was an important accomplishment for us to finish the league season undefeated and go into the playoffs strong."
With the playoffs starting next week, the Bulldogs (24-2, 14-0 in league) will be home for their first-round game.
For Burroughs (18-8, 10-4) it finishes league tied for third with Crescenta Valley (14-10-1, 10-4), which was defeated by Arcadia, 3-1, on Thursday, and Arcadia.
"We look at the playoffs as a whole new season where everyone is 0-0," Burroughs Coach Doug Nicol. "We told our players that we're not going to beat them up over this game. This team has overcome a lot of adversity this season, and to win 18 games and to be going to the playoffs is a huge accomplishment for them."
The Indians had no answer for Brooks, who kept the Burroughs batters on their toes all game with a mix of pitches. She had a no-hitter going through six innings. However, Delaney Nicol powered a single to right field to lead off the seventh to account for Burroughs' only hit of the evening.
Brooks allowed just two other baserunners during the contest, as she surrendered a walk in the second inning and a walk in the fifth. She also struck out nine.
Additionally, she was aided by some fine plays by the Bulldogs infielders.
"They really made some good plays behind me," Brooks said. "It's nice to know that I have the players behind me who I can rely on to get the outs."
Brooks added that she wasn't upset about losing the no-hitter in the final inning.
"I really don't think about that," she said. "I just want to go out and pitch the best that I can."
Along with her exploits in the circle, Brooks also provided the Bulldogs with offense from the leadoff spot. She went three for three with two walks, three runs scored, a run batted in and a stolen base.
"Caitlyn Brooks is the best player I have ever coached," Drabecki said. "Along with being an amazing pitcher, she is just a phenomenal hitter. She really sets the tone for us."
The game was tight through the first three innings, with Burbank clinging to a one-run lead. That run came in the second when Yale-bound Laina Do walked stole second and scored on a well-placed bunt through the left side by Bridgette Pisa.
That lead stuck until the fourth, when Burbank pushed across four runs on singles by Caitlyn Brooks, Kaitlin Brooks and Lily Winn and walks by Cal State Northridge-bound Katie Hooper and Do to go along with two Burroughs errors.
Winn was two for four with two runs scored.
Burbank made it 7-0 with two runs in the fifth and tacked on two additional runs in the sixth.
"We just didn't play a good game tonight, we played poorly, and they capitalized on their opportunities," Nicol said. "Give them credit; they were able to cash in on our mistakes."
The Indians got runners to second base in the second, fifth and seventh innings. However, in every instance Caitlyn Brooks buckled down and got out of the innings.