LA CRESCENTA — A season ago, the Crescenta Valley High softball team won a share of its first Pacific League title since 2011 and this year the Falcons find themselves with another clear path to a second consecutive title.
That's only if they can keep pace with Burroughs and likely win their remaining four games, which started at home against Burbank.
The host Falcons jumped on the Bulldogs early and rode the strong start to a 6-0 victory Tuesday afternoon to keep the road to the league title free and clear with three games to go.
"[The girls] came out strong. The energy was at a peak [in the beginning]," CV coach Amanada Peek said. "They didn't finish like they wanted to, but that's the game of softball. I'm proud of them. The girls made their plays."
Falcons pitcher Dee Dee Hernandez pitched another gem for Crescenta Valley (21-2, 10-1). The freshman threw a five-hit shutout with one walk and seven strikeouts. Hernandez needed just 83 pitches and never threw more than 15 pitches in any one inning.
"It was a little cold, but it's a good team victory," Hernandez said. "We came off hard. I really like our girls' energy."
Hernandez, fresh off a five-inning perfect game against Glendale, was perfect against Burbank (13-9, 7-4) for three innings and sat down the first 10 batters, including the first four via strikeout. Hernandez' perfection came to an end when Bulldog Amaya Broyls hit a clean single to left field with one out in the fourth.
"You can't come out and give them six runs over two innings against a team that plays this good," Burbank coach Mike Delaney said. "They were prepared for the start of the game and we weren't."
Burbank looked certain to score in the top of the fifth with runners on first and second with no one out. However, Hernandez helped herself out of the jam by snagging a liner off the bat of Bene Snyder and then picking the runner off of third for the double play. After a Desi Gomez single put runners on the corners, Hernandez finished the frame with a strikeout to preserve the shutout.
"I knew that my defense would help me, so I kind of didn't put too much pressure on myself," Hernandez said.
Crescenta Valley scored all of the game's runs in the first two innings. Falcon Natalie Bitetti got the first hit of the game with one out in the first and scored the first run of the contest two batters later on an error in the infield by the visitors. Peyton Hause and Kristy Taix followed with run-producing singles to give the Falcons an early three-run advantage.
The Falcons added to their lead with three more runs in the bottom of the second. Stephanie Wichman led off the frame with a double to left-center field. Two batters later, Alyssa Hernandez traded places with her by smashing a double down the right field line for an RBI. Another Burbank error brought home the game's fifth run. With two out, Dee Dee Hernandez laced a double to left-center and scored on the fourth double of the inning when Maddie De Leon hit one to left.
It turned out to be the final run of the game as Burbank pitcher Alyssa Porras settled down. After giving up seven hits in the first two innings, the junior gave up just four in her final four innings of work.