Champions to the final out

Sunbird starter Parraz delivers a pitch Thursday evening.

Gilroy
– It’s good to be a Sunbird in June. The Rosso’s
Furniture-sponsored Gilroy Little League softball team nailed down
the Girls’ Majors championship with an 11-1 win over the South
County Chrysler-Dodge Thunder on Thursday at Christmas Hill
Park.
Gilroy – It’s good to be a Sunbird in June. The Rosso’s Furniture-sponsored Gilroy Little League softball team nailed down the Girls’ Majors championship with an 11-1 win over the South County Chrysler-Dodge Thunder on Thursday at Christmas Hill Park.

It’s good to be a Sunbird, and it’s good to be coached by local legend Gene “Pops” Carlisle, whose teams have won a half-dozen or more titles in his 25 years of coaching softball in the area.

Thursday’s championship-clinching Game 2 win in the best-of-three series with the Thunder was special for Carlisle. The coach had guided teams to championships in Morgan Hill and in tournament play, but the Sunbirds’ title was his first in Gilroy Little League.

“It’s not me, it’s the girls who earned it,” said Carlisle after the game, which left the Sunbirds undefeated at 13-0 this season. “We had a bunch of girls who stepped up this year.”

Two of those girls were Sunbirds Samantha Parraz and Brenna O’Neill. Parraz pitched a complete game for the title-clinching win, recording five strikeouts. She also took the mound for her side in last Tuesday’s Game 1 matchup with the Thunder, a 12-2 Sunbirds victory.

O’Neill smashed a home run and two singles in leading the Sunbird offense in Game 2. And she did it with a bat she wasn’t quite comfortable with yet.

“I just got that bat today,” she said, grimacing. “It usually takes like three games for me to break a bat in.”

How does it feel to be a champion?

“I feel like the best of the best of the best,” said Parraz, as her teammates crowded around her at home plate, celebrating.

The Thunder’s Marissa Gamboa had two hits off the hard-throwing Parraz in Game 2. She and her teammates “all contributed from Day One,” said Thunder coach Bryan Rogers.

“We took a loss in in the first game,” added team manager Robert Lira, “but these girls came back fighting (for Game 2).”

It was a bittersweet victory for the Sunbirds’ Kassie Flores.

After the game, she gave Carlisle a hug and wiped a tear from her eye – Flores and her family will be moving to Texas before the month is out.

As Flores made her way off the field, Carlisle shouted after her, “You tell them down in Texas that you’re a champion!”

For Rogers and Lira, there’s always tomorrow … or more accurately, today. The Thunder (7-4) will have a chance to avenge Thursday’s loss, at least in part, this evening. The Gilroy Chaos travel team, made up in large part by Thunder players, takes on the GPA & Sports Stanford Cardinal, equally stocked with Sunbirds, tonight at 5pm.

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