Scoreless through two innings against Peach Bowl Little League
in the Northern California championship game, manager George
Sandoval knew his Majors softball All-Stars weren’t flustered in
Scoreless through two innings against Peach Bowl Little League in the Northern California championship game, manager George Sandoval knew his Majors softball All-Stars weren’t flustered in the least.
“They can handle the pressure unlike any team I have coached,” said Sandoval, who has been a fixture in youth leagues for the past 20 years. “Win or lose, they are going to hold their heads up and have fun.”
Sure enough, a six-run top of the third occurred right on cue and three innings later, Gilroy Little League had its sixth Majors division team in seven years headed to the Western Regionals as the 2011 All-Stars clipped Peach Bowl 8-1 on Monday night.
Julia Rodriguez served as the catalyst in the big third inning, leading off the frame with a single. After Nikki Villanueva absorbed a wild pitch, Liezl Clark plated Rodriguez to get the locals on the board 1-0. Jel Reyes helped herself to first base with a single to load the bags for Pati Soria, who delivered a two-RBI single for a 3-0 lead. Michaela Decker chased in Soria and Maria Sandoval put a cap on the surge with a two-RBI double.
“We have players who can come in at any time of a game and execute,” Sandoval said. “It makes my job as a coach a lot easier. This is a unique team with a lot of spunk and class.”
Clark walked and scored in the fourth to pad the advantage at 7-0. Peach Bowl broke the shut out with one run in the bottom of the fourth, but didn’t produce much more as Maria Sandoval, to go along with two strikeouts, kept the ball in the strike zone, allowing her defense to clean up behind her.
“From what I see, where we step up is with our defense,” Sandoval said. “There were teams with better hitting, or hit as well as us, and pitchers who could pitch, but our defense was flawless and kept us in games.”
Villanueva walked and scored on a Soria RBI hit to put the finishing touches on the contest in the sixth.
“This didn’t just start in February,” Sandoval said. “This started five year’s ago with travel ball and all of that. These girls have worked hard and I have great parents who are committed to this thing. I credit the girls because the hard work is really showing.”
The Little League Western Regional Tournament is being held in San Bernardino for the first time in a long while, and that is music to Sandoval’s ears.
“It’s going to be a neat, new experience in that regard,” he said. “They do it right down there.”
The All-Stars open play Saturday against Montana at 4 p.m. and follow that up with a Sunday affair against Idaho at 7 p.m.
The championship game is slated for July 29 with the winner advancing to the Little League World Series.