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Bulldogs blast past Falcons

Softball: Hernandez hits walk-off homer to defeat CV, 7-6, in league game.

March 29, 2012|By Jeff Tully

BURBANK — Burbank High's softball team and Coach Nicole Drabecki believe they have a legitimate shot to contend for a Pacific League championship this season.

However, as opponents have discovered for almost a decade and a half, winning a league title has to go through Crescenta Valley. The Falcons have earned that respect, having won or shared 13 of the last 14 league crowns.

The Bulldogs gave credence to their championship quest with a dramatic come-from-behind victory Thursday at McCambridge Park.

Senior second baseman Nelani Hernandez blasted a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to lift the Bulldogs to a 7-6 win against the reigning co-champion Falcons.

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The loss, coupled with a 7-3 defeat by Burroughs on Wednesday puts Crescenta Valley (7-2) at 1-2 in league.

Burbank (9-1, 2-0), which trailed for much of the game, stranded seven runners and was unable to cash in on many of their opportunities against a young Falcons squad that features eight underclassmen. But the hosts were able to fight their way back and made good on a prime situation in the seventh.

With one out, Bulldogs freshman starting pitcher Caitlyn Brooks singled to left field off Crescenta Valley sophomore right-hander Chloe Fairbrother. The next batter, junior left fielder Katie Hooper, reached base on one of five errors committed in the game by the Falcons. Fairbrother worked the count to 1-2 on Hernandez, who took the next offering and planted it firmly in the trees beyond the left-field fence.

"I was just trying to protect because I had two strikes on me," said Hernandez, a four-year varsity player. "I just thought if the next pitch was a strike I was going to swing at it. I just didn't want to strike out."

The home run capped a productive day for Hernandez, who went three for three with a double, three runs scored and four runs batted in.

The loss also overshadowed a solid performance from Crescenta Valley sophomore center fielder Hannah Cookson, who hounded the Bulldogs in the field as well as at the plate. Along with going four for four with a double, a triple and four RBI, she also threw a runner out at home plate and made five putouts, two on running grabs.

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