LITTLE LEAGUE: Minors softball All-Stars clinch district title in come-from-behind fashion

Top, left to right: Victoria Pacheco, Mia Garnica, Isabel

An 8-2 deficit quickly turned into a 20-8 win.
Championship games aren’t supposed to be a walk in the park – the ballpark in this instance. The Gilroy Little League softball Minors All-Stars (9 and 10 year olds) found that out Tuesday as they took on Evergreen with the District 59 title on the line.

An unrelenting Evergreen squad staked out to an 8-2 lead after three innings. However, Gilroy mounted a monumental comeback, plating 18 unanswered runs over the final three innings to claim a 20-8 come-from-behind victory and a district crown.

“The score does not indicate how back and forth the game actually was,” Gilroy manager Susan Shapiro said.

In fact, the game had little similarities to Gilroy’s 16-0 victory over the same Evergreen squad in the opening round of the tournament June 25 – a contest that lasted just four innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.

“They were a completely different team,” Shapiro said. “They played in a tournament over the weekend and their preparation worked for them. They are a strong team.”

Both offenses were about as hot as the 102-degree temperature out at Dove Hill Park in San Jose.

“It was miserable,” Shapiro said of the heat.

Evergreen held a 5-2 advantage before tacking three more tallies to its total in the third frame. But a seven-run Gilroy top of the fourth negated that cushion as the locals grabbed a 9-8 lead, their first of the game and one that they did not relinquish.

Gilroy’s starter in the circle, Gianna Vanni, held Evergreen scoreless in its half of the fourth and gave way to Abby Clark in the fifth, who too silenced Evergreen’s vaunted line-up.

The floodgates opened in the top of the sixth as Gilroy erupted for 11 runs to all but finish off the championship.

Clark retired the side in the sixth, including inducing a ground ball to third where Vanni, who couldn’t escape the action after moving to third base, fielded the sharply hit bounder and tossed to first for the final out.

“It was an amazing job by all of them,” Shapiro said.

Clean-up batter Erika Cates contributed four hits to Gilroy’s 19 as a team and added seven RBI in the process. Mia Garnica matched Cates’ output, going 4-for-5 with a double and three RBI. Not to be outdone, lead-off hitter Kalena Paredes posted four hits of her own to accompany a five-RBI day at the plate, while Clark added three hits to the mix.

Tuesday’s win moves the All-Stars into the state tournament, which begins July 16. Gilroy opens play at 9 a.m. in Pinole.

–In other Gilroy Little League All-Star Action, the Majors American squad, managed by Rick Cook, slid past Alum Rock 8-2 last Thursday. The 12-year-olds resume Distract 59 action this Thursday versus East Hills at 5:30 p.m. at Reid-Hillview Field.

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