Burroughs' Haley Schulman takes Pacific League softball's top honor

Coach Doug Nicol and the Burroughs High softball team were not happy with having to share the Pacific League championship with Crescenta Valley in 2011.

The goal this past season was to win the title outright and not leave any question as to who was the better squad in league.

To accomplish that feat, Nicol put his faith into senior pitcher Haley Schulman, who had to share duties in the circle in 2011. As the team's ace, Schulman received the lion's share of starts for the Indians.

The senior didn't disappoint, defeating Burbank twice and Crescenta Valley once, as Burroughs claimed the league crown for its own. In addition to her pitching exploits, Schulman also had solid numbers at the plate.

For her accomplishments, Schulman was voted the Pacific League Player of the Year.

"To me, it was clear cut that Haley was the MVP of the league," said Nicol, who earned league coach-of-the-year honors. "[Crescenta Valley's] Hannah Cookson is a good hitter, don't get me wrong. But Haley is the only person in the league, beside Caitlyn Brooks from Burbank, who can say she does it on offense and defense. She hit, she pitched, she really did it all for us. She is a big reason why we won the league by two games."

Schulman stepped up in the circle for the Indians (24-4, 13-1 in league), notching a 17-4 record and a 2.15 earned-run average in 136 2/3 innings. In addition, she struck out 137 batters.

The senior also impressed with her bat. Schulman batted .354 and had 28 hits and drove in 17 runs.

"The amazing stat about Haley is against Burbank's first four big hitters, they only went three for 23 against her," Nicol said. "Her stats were incredible both offensively and defensively. To me, her vote was a no-brainer, and when the other coaches talked about it they could see that she was the best choice."

After Schulman's honor, a cavalcade of local players nabbed first-team accolades. Shannon Trujillo and Michelle Santiago were voted to the team for Burroughs, while rival Burbank's Katie Hooper and Brooks were also first-teamers. Crescenta Valley's Cookson and Allison Lacey also earned first-team nods along with Kaitlyn Williams of Hoover and Janette Avina of Glendale.

Trujillo batted .429 with 33 hits, 27 runs batted in, 10 doubles, five home runs, 28 runs scored and a .805 slugging percentage. Santiago made an instant impact, as she also hit .429 with 18 hits, seven RBI and six doubles.

"Shannon has been a leader for us for the last four years," Nicol said. "She just hit so well … She did a great job for us this year.

"As well as Michelle played late in the season, that's just unheard of for a freshman. By the end of the year she was just getting better, and better and better. The sky's the limit for this kid and she's going to have a bright future for us."

Brooks, who helped the Bulldogs advance to the CIF Southern Section Division III quarterfinals, had a 16-5 record and a 1.95 ERA with 180 strikeouts in 147 innings for the Bulldogs, who tied for second place with Crescenta Valley.

At the plate, Brooks hit .429 with 36 hits, 23 RBI, seven doubles, five home runs and 22 runs scored.

"Caitlyn turned out to be just a phenomenal freshman," said Burbank Coach Nicole Drabecki, whose team went 23-6, 11-3. "I'm just so excited to see her growth and her development throughout the year."

Hooper hit .467 with 42 hits, 39 RBI and 11 home runs. In addition, the senior scored 45 runs, had a .533 on-base percentage and a .967 slugging percentage.

"Katie Hooper came back from shoulder surgery in the fall and I thought she did a remarkable job coming off a surgery like that," Drabecki said. "Both Katie and Caitlyn definitely carried our team."

For Crescenta Valley (20-7, 11-3), Cookson batted a robust .731 (49 for 67) with an area-leading 16 home runs and 53 RBI. She contributed five doubles, five triples and scored 41 runs and helped the Falcons qualify for the playoffs.

"Getting on the first team is something that's fully deserved," Crescenta Valley Coach Mark Samford said. "There wasn't anything bad about her season.

"She carried the load, led by example and hit the ball wherever it was pitched."

Lacey also fared well for the Falcons. She batted .515 (34 for 66) with three doubles and a pair of triples. She drove in 15 runs and scored 30.

"She provided us with a lot of leadership and was a four-year varsity player," Samford said. "She did what we asked her to batting second.

"Behind the plate, she caught two pitchers with no varsity experience. She handled that role very well."

For Hoover, Williams, a junior shortstop, was named to the first team for the third season in a row. She batted .478 (33 for 69) with four home runs and 25 RBI. Williams also scored 20 runs, stole nine bases and notched eight doubles and five triples for the Tornadoes (9-16, 4-10 for sixth place).

"She's just gotten better every year," Hoover Coach Rich Henning said. "She's very patient at the plate and puts the ball in play. The more she did that, the more things happened."

Avina batted .490 and hit four home runs for the Nitros (11-10, 7-7 for fifth place). Avina also added four triples and three doubles and thrived behind the plate.

"She caught 100 of the 111 innings we played," Glendale Coach Christine Paknik said. "She was strong behind the plate and got some big hits for us."

Those named to the second team were Davina Del Castillo and Caitlin Loera for Burroughs, Nalani Hernandez and junior shortstop Laina Do for Burbank, Hailey Cookson and Jessica Morena of Crescenta Valley, Kenya Buckley of Hoover and Glendale's Meghan Spencer.

Del Castillo, a freshman center fielder, batted .378 with 31 hits, 22 RBI, three home runs and scored 16 runs, while Loera, a senior second baseman, had a .361 average with 30 hits, 15 RBI and 15 runs scored.

While Hernandez, a senior second baseman, hit .419 with 36 hits, 30 RBI, six home runs and 28 runs scored, Do, a junior shortstop, had a .444 average with 36 hits, 27 RBI and 27 runs scored. Do also swiped 20 bases in 20 attempts.

Cookson, a freshman shortstop, hit .551 (43 for 78) with 17 doubles, three triples, 14 runs batted in and 36 runs scored. Morena, a junior first baseman, batted .397 (27 for 68) with 10 runs batted in and 18 runs scored.

Buckley set the tone for the Tornadoes batting lead off. The senior center fielder batted .400 (26 for 65) with 28 stolen bases. She also recorded four doubles, seven RBI and scored 26 runs.

Spencer, a junior pitcher, went 5-3 and struck out 34 in 51 innings. Offensively, she batted .420 with three home runs, seven doubles and three triples.

Honorable mentions went to Indians first baseman Aimee Rodriguez (.341, 29 hits, 16 RBI), Burbank junior center fielder Ashley Russo (.377, 29 hits, 17 RBI), Crescenta Valley sophomore pitcher Olivia Thayer (12-2 with a 1.82 ERA and 52 strikeouts), Glendale sophomore shortstop Rachel Bartamian (.420 with two home runs, three doubles, two triples and 22 runs scored) and Hoover senior catcher Liliana Rivera (.391 with two home runs, six doubles, three triples, 26 runs batted in, 15 runs and 13 stolen bases).

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