NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Before delivering her biggest pitch of the season, Alli Lombardo checked the runners standing on all three bases and took three deep breaths.
Lombardo and the members of the Crescenta Valley 9-10 Softball All-Star team had arrived on the doorstep of winning a championship and extending their season for at least another round. With every ounce of energy, Lombardo's last pitch led to instant celebration after a brief scare.
Lombardo got a fly ball to shallow center field for the final out and helped Crescenta Valley notch a 6-4 victory against Burbank in the District 16 All-Star Tournament championship game on Tuesday night at Scholl Canyon Ball Fields.
Lombardo, who retired the first two batters to start the inning before issuing three walks and one single that led to one run, appeared to hold her breath as Mallory Hill raced in to catch a ball hit by Mikayla Gay.
"I was trying to think and just concentrate," said Lombardo, who went the final 4 2/3 innings to pick up the victory. "I wanted to hit the strike zone and not lose my focus.
"I was scared the ball was going to be hit over her head or that she might even drop it."
Crescenta Valley will next participate in the Section 2 Tournament, which will start with an opening-round contest against District 40 champion Granada Hills at 5 p.m. Friday in San Marino.
Crescenta Valley overcame an early 3-0 deficit against a Burbank squad seeking to force an if-necessary game. However, Crescenta Valley seized the momentum and scored two runs apiece in the fourth, fifth and sixth.
"We started off a little slow and then we came alive late," Crescenta Valley Coach Dan Abboud said. "We started scoring some runs and we thought we would run away when we made it 6-3.
"They came back on us [in the sixth] and we know that Mallory is one of the most heads-up players. She's got one of the best gloves around."
Burbank scored twice in the first on a pair of wild pitches before taking a 3-0 lead in the third on an error.
Crescenta Valley, which entered the championship contest with lopsided victories against Burbank and Foothill, began its comeback in the fourth. Lombardo, who finished with three hits, stole home to make it 3-1 before Roxy Raad sliced a triple to right-center field to score Peyton Lindman Marshall, who singled and moved up two bases on a stolen base and wild pitch.
"Everybody's spirits were raised when we scored those two runs [to make it 3-2]," Lombardo said. "We said we can still win.
"We just needed to keep our heads in the game and keep hitting the ball."
Alexis Abboud then knotted the game at 3 on an infield hit to first that scored Briana McReynolds, who walked and got to third on a stolen base and error. Lombardo then singled to third, and a fielding error by the third baseman allowed Abboud to score to give Crescenta Valley a 4-3 advantage.
In the sixth, McReynolds scored on a fielder's choice and Hill came home on a wild pitch to make it 6-3.