Kirker breaks HR record

NORTHWEST GLENDALE — With three mighty swings, Crescenta Valley High’s Baillie Kirker blasted her way into the California state record books and further entrenched herself in area lore.

Symbolic of the dominance that has colored her seasons as a Falcon, the University of Arizona-bound senior launched three majestic home runs on Thursday afternoon at Hoover High, propelling Crescenta Valley to a five-inning, mercy rule 19-0 Pacific League win against Hoover and putting her name alone atop the state’s all-time list with 47 career round-trippers.

“I wasn’t expecting it at all,” said Kirker of the record, which she tied in the first inning and surpassed in the third. “I was just hoping to get runs for my team and whatever else happens, happens.

“It feels good, though, it does.”

Kirker sent a two-run shot to center field in the top of the first inning to tie San Pedro’s Perelini Koria’s mark of 45 set from 2005-08. In truly grand fashion, Kirker broke the short-lived tie when she pulled a 1-2 offering into left field for a grand slam in the top of the fourth. For good measure, she went deep a third time, sending another two-run shot over the fence in the fifth inning for the last Crescenta Valley runs of the game.

“Baillie’s just one of the best hitters God’s put on Earth, you just can’t say it any other way,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Dan Berry of Kirker, whose overall line was monstrous, as she went four for five with 10 runs batted in, five runs scored and 20 total bases.

To the on-lookers at the game and to Kirker, all three were no-doubt blasts as soon as they connected.

“It’s like a feeling you have when you hit them,” said Kirker, the reigning All-Area Softball Player of the Year. “Those three I felt, and it felt good.”

Kirker, who was quick to heap praise on her father, stating, “I’d be nowhere without him,” has 10 home runs on the year, more than halfway to the single-season state mark of 19.

Perhaps lost in Kirker’s magnificence was Crescenta Valley pitcher Kali Cancelosi’s perfection. The senior, despite battling a case of the flu, threw five perfect innings for the Falcons (6-0, 2-0 in league), the second-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Division III.

“I, obviously, don’t have all my stuff,” Cancelosi said.

But what she had was more than enough, as she struck out 11 and didn’t allow a single ball out of the infield, inducing three groundouts and one popup.

“She threw a heckuva game,” Kirker said.

Outside of Kirker’s record-breaking effort and Cancelosi’s five innings of perfection, there wasn’t a whole lot of drama as the game progressed.

Hoover (2-2, 0-2) victimized itself to the tune of eight errors, with Crescenta Valley more than cashing in, scoring three runs in the first, six in the second, three again in the third, four in the fourth and three in the fifth.

“You take all those errors away and it’s still a loss, but it’s a single-digit loss,” said Hoover Coach Rich Henning, who got a complete-game effort from junior Christina Iezza, who had 10 unearned runs scored against her. “You can’t give anybody that many errors, especially a team like CV.”

Crescenta Valley has now outscored its opposition, 89-0. It pounded out 15 hits Thursday, with Erin Ashby going three for four with four runs and an RBI, Alyssa Sovereign going three for four with three runs and an RBI and Alison Lacey notching two hits. In addition, Brielle Walker and Kelsey Chambers both scored twice.

“There’s no easy outs over there,” Henning said. “They’re a good club. They play hard and they look like they’re having fun. From [an opposing] coach’s standpoint, they’re a nightmare.”

Indeed, the Falcons are off to a seemingly perfect start.

“I think we’re all on the same page,” Kirker said. “We haven’t lost, we haven’t given up any runs, you couldn’t ask for much more than that.”

Nonetheless, after the game, as the team posed for a picture around a posterboard sign congratulating Kirker, it was evident that this was one of those few games in which it wasn’t all about the final score.

“I’m very impressed,” said Cancelosi of her close friend and teammate’s accomplishment, “and proud of her.”

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