LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES: Aiming for the world

Holly Lam tosses a warm-up pitch as her teammates, from left,

Gilroy All-Stars take on Latin America today for spot in World
Series championship game
KIRKLAND Wash. – On Thursday, the Gilroy All-Stars took a breather away from the softball diamond and participated in a tour of the University of Washington and its athletic facilities. Just one of the many memories being formed during the team’s weeklong adventure at the Little League World Series in Kirkland, Wash.

“I’m really happy,” first baseman Nicole Green said of the tour and the day off. “We are making sure that the coaches from Washington remember our names.”

It was a welcomed break for the 12 players and their families after a rugged four-game stretch.

However, today it’s back to the task at hand. And on the docket is a Latin American team from Puerto Rico in the semifinals. A win and the Garlic Girls are in the championship game. A loss and the dreams of a world title are dashed.

“I think we need to go in with positive attitudes,” Green said. “We need to go in with confidence and not get down on ourselves if we fall behind.”

Gilroy already secured a spot in the semifinals with its 10-2 win over Guam on Tuesday, moving the girls to 3-0 in the bracket. As a result, Wednesday’s game against the East (Pennsylvania) was purely positional, with the victor earning the No. 1-seed in Pool B.

But with the top seed at stake, Gilroy came up on the losing end for the first time this week, dropping a narrow 3-2 decision.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” manager Rudy Perales said Thursday. “At no point did our girls give in. They fought and battled. Every great game there has to be a winner and a loser and unfortunately, we were the losers that time.”

Gilroy held a slim 2-1 cushion heading into the seventh inning, but relinquished the lead as Pennsylvania scored twice to steal the contest.

Mariza Rodriguez drove in Kristen Dennis in the top of the first to give the girls an early 1-0 lead, and Brittney Souza chased in Holly Lam all the way from first base for the girl’s second tally of the afternoon.

“If we were going to lose a game, that was probably the one to lose,” Perales said. “It would have been nice to have been the No. 1 team, but they are a strong team. After about an hour or so of them with their chins down they bounced right back up and they are ready to play again.”

The loss sets up the showdown with the Latin America squad, the top team out of Pool A and the reigning world champions at 5 p.m. today.

“We haven’t had an opportunity to watch them, some of our games have been at the same time,” Perales said. “They are a very good team, they are fundamentally sound. We are going to have to be at our best to beat them. And we are prepared for that.

Perales added that the day off Thursday was the perfect opportunity to refocus before the semifinals.

“Now we can get that loss out of the way,” Perales added. “They can get their minds focus back onto winning again. We will bring our best team to the game.

Lam, the team’s ace in the circle, will get the start today, Perales said.

As for what the players have heard about the Latin America team, the scouting report isn’t as thorough.

“Holly Lam’s brother said they play like boys, so that’s something to watch out for,” Green said.

The championship game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start and can be seen on ESPN 2.

Check for results of today’s semifinals action.

The Gilroy All-Stars: Samantha DeLaTorre, Kristen Dennis, Jenae Estrada, Nicole Green, Holly Lam, Mackenzie Mitchell, Dejah Raoof, Mariza Rodriguez, Adrianna Ortega, Elisa Perales, Crissy Simpson and Brittney Souza.