BURBANK — Having proven to be one of the elite teams in CIF Southern Section Division VII over the last several seasons, the Bellarmine-Jefferson softball team is looking to put its mark on Division VI.
The Guards reached the Division VIII championship contest the past two seasons before being moved up this year.
Bell-Jeff passed its first postseason test Thursday, as Monique Landini came within a double of recording a cycle to help the second-seeded Guards register a 10-1 home victory against Frazier Mountain in an opening-round contest at Gross Park.
Bell-Jeff, which won the Santa Cruz League championship, improved to 19-10 and will meet Pasadena Poly in a second-round game Tuesday at a site to be determined.
"By moving up to another division, we know we are going to be facing even tougher teams," said Landini, a shortstop who scored three runs and hit a three-run inside-the-park home run in the third inning. "We still have to push each other.
"We want to play to the best of our ability and show we can do well [in the new division]."
Bell-Jeff never trailed. It scored four runs in the first, one in the second and five in the third to oust Frazier Mountain (15-9). Frazier Mountain, which received an at-large berth after finishing fourth in the High Desert League, opened the postseason Tuesday with a 17-4 road wild-card win against Holy Family.
Landini and company were in command from the start. Bell-Jeff pitcher Mia Acosta struck out 10 and limited the Falcons to five hits in going the distance.
Acosta gave the Guards a 2-0 lead with a two-run double in the first and scored on a single by Sofia Palacios to extend the lead to 3-0. Prischilla Panizo, who finished with four hits, made it 4-0 with a run-scoring single.
Bell-Jeff Coach Florencio Galindo said the Guards searched for a quick start.
"We were hoping for a quick start because that's a pretty feisty team that scored a lot of runs [against Holy Family]," said Galindo, whose team finished with 15 hits. "We had some people set the table for our big bats and it was huge to get those runs early on.
"It doesn't matter what division you are in because you just have to go out there and play softball."
Acosta had a sacrifice fly to center to make it 5-0 in the second.
Bell-Jeff put the game away with a big third. An error by the Frazier Mountain second baseman made it 6-0 and a run-scoring double by Tiffany Galindo padded the lead to 7-0.
Landini, who recorded a single in the first and a triple in the second, then hit a home run down the left-field line to make it 10-0.
"I spent some time at practice [Wednesday] working on my hitting," Landini said. "I felt comfortable batting today.
"We had a couple of big innings and that helped us relax."
The Falcons avoided being blanked when Alex Pivetti had a run-scoring triple in the seventh.
Alexis Lopez collected two hits for the Guards.