First inning keys Falcons rout

SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — When Crescenta Valley High pitcher Heather Bacon took to the circle on Thursday afternoon, it’s a relatively secure assumption that the All-Area hurler didn’t have all that much pressure upon her shoulders.

As reliable as Falcons offensive dominance has become this Pacific League season and the last, Crescenta Valley’s 11-run first-inning explosion was still surprisingly spectacular.

The offensive barrage keyed a 17-0 five-inning league win for the Falcons against host Glendale, in which Bacon combined with Erin Ashby for a no-hitter and Crescenta Valley rolled to its seventh straight win.

“We came out and placed the ball where we needed to place the ball,” said Falcons senior shortstop Baillie Kirker, who went three for three with a walk, three runs scored and three runs batted in. “Our whole lineup battled through.”

Six Falcons combined for 12 hits, while every starter either scored or drove in a run.

The 11-run first inning didn’t see any extra-base hits or runners reach base on Glendale (3-3 in league) errors.

“They just hit the ball very hard where we weren’t,” said Nitros Coach Christine Paknik. “They’ve got a good, stacked team.”

Eight singles in the inning, three walks and some aggressive base running added up to the 11-0 lead.

“It was a clinic on baserunning,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Dan Berry, whose team, ranked sixth in CIF Southern Section Division III, improved to 16-1 and 6-0 league. “We showed what we’re able to do on the bases in terms of taking the extra bases, being aggressive.”

Ashby began the inning with a single and scored the first run on a Stephanie Ziemann sacrifice fly. In all, Crescenta Valley had 15 at-bats in the stanza. Kaela Green, who was two for four with three RBIs, and Ashby, who was three for three with three runs and two RBIs, each notched two-run singles in the inning and Kali Cancelosi launched a deep single with the bases loaded that scored Alyssa Sovereign, who had three runs and two RBIs, Kirker and Ziemann.

After that, Bacon (9-0) took over.

“She’s been phenomenal all year,” Berry said.

Bacon struck out the first four batters she faced and nine overall in four innings pitched. Her only blemish came in the second, when she hit Samantha Dickens with a pitch.

Nicole Salas scored on a wild pitch and Kirker plated two on a single to left in the second, pushing the lead to 14-0. Delaney Gay, Brielle Walker and Kirker would come around to score in the fourth.

Glendale starter Sally Calderon retired the side without a hit in the third, while Angie Mejia threw a hitless fifth.

In perhaps a sign of things to come, Ashby, a sophomore, pitched the fifth, striking out two in a perfect stanza.

While the Falcons are right on track in their quest to win their third straight league title, the Nitros have to shake off Thursday’s outcome as they remain in the thick of the playoff hunt.

“It’s not a matter of forgetting, but putting it in the back of your mind and letting it make you a better player,” Paknik said. “We do really need to step up.”

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