Outfielder’s clutch defense helps Lady Falcons preserve league win over Burroughs
By Brandon HENSLEY
There wasn’t a pool to be seen at Burbank’s Olive Park Tuesday afternoon, but Hannah Cookson dived right in anyway.
The junior centerfielder made two sprawling catches late in the game against the Burroughs Indians to help her Falcons to an important 7-3 Pacific League victory.
The win pushed CV (7-7-1) back to .500 in what is turning out to be quite an up and down season. The Falcons are now 3-1 in league, tied with Burroughs for second place. CV previously lost April 4 to first-place Burbank (4-0) behind a dominant performance by pitcher Caitlyn Brooks, who struck out 14 Falcons in a 10-1 win.
The Falcons can’t worry about a rematch with Brooks yet. They host Pasadena today and then play at Glendale on Tuesday.
“They’re all well-coached teams,” said Falcon Coach Mark Samford. “You gotta go out and play. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”
CV entered the fifth inning up 7-0, but Burroughs scored two runs on three hits and an error. Then, with two runners on and two out, Aimee Rodriguez stepped to the plate and drilled a ball to centerfield. Cookson ran up to her right as it was dying and made the diving catch.
“I saw that it was short … and there were runners on so I knew I had to block it,” she said.
The next inning she made another diving catch – this time a backhanded one – with two out and a runner on second base. Burroughs scored a run in the seventh, but under a beating sun, Falcons pitcher Olivia Thayer was able to close out the game.
Thayer gave up three runs – one earned – and six hits. She walked one and struck out two batters.
To the chagrin of Samford, CV has had trouble starting games, often falling behind after one inning. On Tuesday, the Falcons turned the tables. They jumped on Burroughs pitcher Cheyenne Steward for six runs on six hits and a walk in the top of the first.
The big blow came when first baseman Chloe Fairbrother singled up the middle with the bases loaded, scoring two runs to make it 4-0. Cookson, the best hitter on the team, tripled in the fourth inning, and was walked the other three times she came to bat.
“No, I like hitting, but that’s a part of the game,” she said if she was okay with taking walks. “If there was a good athlete on another team I would want to walk them. I wouldn’t want to take the chance.”
Cookson scored after her triple when Tiffany Briscoe drove her home, and it seemed it would be an easy victory, until Burroughs rallied the fifth, forcing Cookson into her heroics.
“You hate to say yes,” Samford said on whether he expected Cookson to make those catches. “That’s a lot of pressure. Those are two really good catches, especially the first one coming in like that, and the second one was a backhand.”
Offensively, Samford said if Cookson is going to get walked a lot, he’s comfortable with the talented lineup he has.
“I think we have sticks all the way through,” he said. “Our No. 9 hitter (Brady Sanford) had two hits today.”
Sanford ended up getting credit for one hit. The other one was turned into an error on the second baseman.
“We’re good,” said Cookson. “We’re improving. We did awesome today and we’re progressing a lot.”