LITTLE LEAGUE: Majors All-Stars fall short in Western Regional final


For the Gilroy Little League Major Division softball All-Stars,
their first loss of the postseason was also their last.
Bill Norris – Special to the Dispatch

For the Gilroy Little League Major Division softball All-Stars, their first loss of the postseason was also their last.

Playing in the championship game of the Little League Softball Western Regionals with a berth into the Little League World Series hinging on victory, the team was unable to dig out of a 6-0 hole and lost to Southern California’s Westchester-Del Rey Little League 8-3 at Al Houghton Stadium on Friday night in San Bernardino..

Gilroy’s defense, which manager George Sandoval pointed to as one of his team’s strengths throughout the tournament, was unable to overcome a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes on a night when they might’ve needed to be perfect to beat Westchester-Del Rey. In fact, Gilroy, the Northern California representative in the tournament, had only allowed 24 runs in 12 previous games going into Friday’s final.

“Our defense has been our strength, and the offense has been coming along up and down the batting order,” Sandoval said. “But we made a couple of errors, little lapses, that put us in a hole.”

Westchester opened the scoring in the second inning with a leadoff single from Simone Simon and a walk.

Westchester pitcher Alexis Cecere helped her own cause by lining a ball to right field, which sailed on right fielder Jel Reyes for a double, scoring pinch runner Matiana Hebert.

Sarah Robinson scored on a wild pitch later in the inning and it was 2-0.

But the real damage was done in the third, as Westchester batted around, scoring four times on only two hits.

Meanwhile, Westchester-Del Rey’s Cecere was able to count on her defense to keep Gilroy at bay. While she allowed eight hits, she did not walk anyone.

Gilroy used some aggressive base running to manufacture its first runs in the fourth inning. Pati Soria led off with a single and went to second on a wild pitch. Cynthia Del Real blooped a single to center, with Soria stopping at third. But Del Real, kept going from first advancing to second safely on the throw to third.

A wild pitch to Reyes allowed Soria to score, and Del Real to advance. Reyes followed by bunting the ball just to the first base side of the circle. Cecere fielded it cleanly, but double clutched trying to hold Del Real at third, and her throw to first was too late. Del Real hustled in from third to make it 6-2.

But that was the last of the rally.

Del Real led Gilroy’s offense on the night, going 2-for-3 with the run scored, the only Gilroy batter with multiple hits. Leadoff batter Nikki Villanueva doubled and scored on a Liezl Clark single in the fifth.

Despite the loss, the Gilroy team had plenty to look back on during its 12-1 postseason run.

“Our bats just didn’t get going tonight,” Sandoval said. “But we can smile and have our heads up after this.”

Westchester Del-Rey advances to the Little League Softball World Series, to be played Aug. 11-17 in Portland, Ore.

“If it ain’t us going (to the World Series), I’m glad it’s (Westchester),” Sandoval said. “That’s the type of team we want to represent the West.”

Photos to follow