No duel, pitching still rules in Crescenta Valley junior softball win over Burbank

NORTHWEST GLENDALE — Both the Crescenta Valley Hollywood Studio Gallery and Burbank Bruins got solid pitching performances in the opening round of the Minor Softball Tri-Cities Tournament of Champions Saturday.

The difference was Crescenta Valley had it from the start. CV's Michela Labellarte gave her coach and dad, Joey Labellarte, an earlyFather's Daypresent when she struck out 10 batters, walked three and gave up one hit and two runs through four innings of work in the circle to lead her team to a 12-2 win at Pelanconi Park.

"My focus was just to get it over the plate and do a good job," said Michela Labellarte, whose strikes led to her striking out the side in the first, second and fifth innings.

Morgan Mersola did it all for Burbank. She not only played solid defense at shortstop but entered the circle in the fourth inning with the Bruins down, 11-1, and gave up just one run, three walks, two hits and struck out two in the final two innings.

"Morgan has always been good," Burbank Coach Shaun Broyls said. "She's our No. 2 pitcher but she's one of the best infielders we have and she had our only hit today. She was all over the place and she's an all-star."

Mersola's hit was an infield single in the bottom of the fourth inning. She scored — to cut the deficit to 11-2 — when she stole second and came all the way home on a pair of throwing errors.

Crescenta Valley was also aggressive on the base paths, which led to 11 runs in the first three innings, as it stole a total of 10 bases in the game, and took another six on wild pitches or passed balls.

"It's all about the girls having fun and we try to make it a little more interesting for them," Joey Labellarte said. "I pretty much let them go on their own today. They did what they were supposed to do, it was beautiful."

CV took off from the outset en route to a four-run top of the first, which included two walks and singles from Michela Labellarte and Melissa Iyoya, who drove in Michela with a bloop single to right field to push CV's lead to 3-0. Iyoya pushed the advantage to four when she stole home.

The lead ballooned to eight when Crescenta Valley scored four more times in the second without a hit, as it drew four walks, stole two bases and capitalized on four errors and a wild pitch.

Burbank got on the board in the bottom of the second when Jada Reese drew a one-out walk, stole second and scored on two ensuing throwing errors.

Crescenta Valley, which also had Jordan Hinkle strike out the side in the third, scored three more runs in the third on singles from Hinkle and Alex Schwalbach (two for three), three walks, three stolen bases and two errors.

The final run of the game came in the top of the fifth when Iyoya (two for three, RBI) singled aboard, stole second, moved to third on an error and came home on a wild pitch.

There were only positives for Broyls to take away from the game, despite the final score.

"We are a brand new team," he said. "Half our team had never thrown a ball or caught a ball this year so to see them respond and come back in a way that was admirable — they actually had some team spirit today — I couldn't have been more proud."

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