BURBANK — With the ball hanging in the air, Memorie Munoz drifted backward while looking into the sun and lunged for the ball in fair territory behind third base.
Once the Burroughs High softball player made the difficult catch for the final out, the Pacific League standings looked entirely different with Burroughs and Crescenta Valley sharing the top spot.
Burroughs finally caught Crescenta Valley following a 2-1 win at Olive Park on Tuesday, leaving the teams battling over the next two weeks to see which squad will win the league championship or if they’ll split the title like last season.
With two outs and a runner on third, Emily Bitetti hit a looping pop-up that Munoz caught.
“For some reason, I had a feeling the ball was going to be hit to me,” said Munoz, who made several impressive plays in the field. “I had to be ready for anything and I saw the ball up there. It’s such a huge game and it’s just great to get the win.
“We still know there are going to be a lot of tough league games left, so there’s still a lot of work ahead of us.”
Burroughs (9-3-1, 8-1 in league) split the two head-to-head meetings with Crescenta Valley (19-2, 8-1). Crescenta Valley, ranked second in CIF Southern Section Division III behind West Torrance, posted a 9-0 win against Burroughs on March 29. The biggest difference from last time to Tuesday was a crucial error committed by the Falcons and the return of former All-Area Softball Player of the Year Presley Miraglia for Burroughs.
Burroughs ended Crescenta Valley’s 15-game winning streak Tuesday, overcoming a 1-0 deficit and scoring two runs in the fourth.
“Great game by both teams,” Burroughs coach Wes Tanigawa said. “It went right to the very end and that’s what you expect. Our girls knew what the game meant and we had to come in and play CV straight up to have a chance.
“We feel good about where we are right now. Still, there’s going to be some tough games left.”
Crescenta Valley took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on an inside-the-park home run from Dee Dee Hernandez to right-center field off Miraglia.
Burroughs bounced back against Hernandez in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Mia Storer singled. Chloe Bookmeyer followed with a single to left. The ball got past the left fielder for an error, allowing Storer and Bookmeyer to score.
“The game was won off an error; that was the difference,” Crescenta Valley coach Amanda Peek said. “We seemed to have a shot to score almost every inning and we just couldn’t capitalize against Presley.
“We gave ourselves a shot at the end. Presley pitched very well and she shut down a tough lineup. Dee Dee pitched a great game, too. The season isn’t over and there are some things we can take from here that will help us the rest of the way.”
Miraglia, a former All-Area Softball Player of the Year who recently rejoined the team after missing the first half of the season, struck out five and yielded six hits. Hernandez struck out two and held the Indians to four hits.
Crescenta Valley shortstop Alyssa Hernandez finished with three hits.
“I really thought we were going to at least tie it up [in the seventh inning],” Hernandez said. “It’s definitely a gut check for us and I’m glad it happened now.
“It will fuel us up and we’ll have to come out much harder the next game.”
Burroughs and Crescenta Valley will participate in league road contests Thursday. Burroughs will take on Muir and Crescenta Valley will compete against Glendale.